I am a stage manager at a big church. A really big church. I think the term “mega” is used a lot when describing us. I hate that, it makes us sound like a joke to be thrown away with 80’s valley girl speak. There is good and bad in it – like every other human institution.
Our leadership team has a laser like focus. They know exactly who the target audience is for KCC and it is never far from anyone’s mind. We are a “seeker” church with a heavy interest in attracting and retaining first time visitors. We have a variety of ways for curious people or new people to get plugged in (small groups, ministries, etc) which is the primary place that they learn the Bible and the culture of Christianity. One of the most frequent criticisms I hear is that we are shallow – I wonder how many people who say that are involved in these things? I mean, what do they expect? Hellfire and damnation from the pulpit every week? I grew up going three times a week to a small, conservative fundamentalist church in the deep south and I was never NEVER challenged there as I am regularly here.
Anyway, the best explanation I have ever heard about our mission was from Steve Norman who said, “We aren’t a bucket. We are a pipeline.” We don’t WANT you to come to KCC and stay for the rest of your life. That’s not it’s design or function. We want to provide a safe, intriguing place that introduces you to Jesus and fires your passion for living the life He calls you to and then go out and do it. Preferably somewhere else that needs you. Unless you are actively involved in the mission of KCC – reaching out to people who think they hate church – then no, this is not the place for you.
Our services are the main tool we use to introduce people to us. So yes, we use contemporary music. From Coldplay to Led Zeplin to Nine Inch Nails. And yes, we use extravagant lighting and advanced sound. And dramas. And videos. And slick advertising. Why on earth wouldn’t we use every single tool available to us to support the message? To capture people’s imagination? These people live in a world where excellence in media is all around them, why would they be engaged by mediocrity? Doesn’t God call us to excellence? Why then, does there seem to be so much condemnation for it in church circles? Why is the perception that if we are using all the tools it’s not “authentic” or “spirit led”? I have been going to church all my life and have never seen a group of people or leaders who are so actively seeking God’s heart. Why do others think that all we care about is the ‘wow’ factor?
I’m a part of a message board for others who work in the artistic and technical ends of church ministry. It’s supposed to be a way for us to network, ask questions and learn from each other. But every time I speak up and answer some sort of question about how we do things, I am slapped down with a version of “yeah, well, rich churches are shallow…mega churches aren’t Spirit led…our church doesn’t need a good process, we are small enough to listen to God in our planning….” or some such. I got another such response today and it really stung.
One of the rudders I’ve used to make decisions in my life is from the study “Experiencing God” that I went through maybe 15 years ago. It said “If you want to walk with God, find where he is already working and join Him.” Clearly something is happening to the hearts of the people here or there wouldn’t be so many new people every week. Why is it not taken as “real church” by so many?
I’d been thinking about doing a blog post on why large churches need a stage manager, but after the rebuke I just got from my “peers” I realize how useless it would be. It makes me sad and frustrated. So I wrote this instead and am posting it here, hopefully, to get a wider variety of comments.
I really am soliciting your comments here. Many of you are my friends from high school and are active in smaller, bible belt churches. What are your feelings and the feelings of those around you about ‘mega-churches’? What about those of you in the midwest? in Kansas (Mom, I’m looking at you. Get Dad to read this too). How about the handful of you I went to college with? Particularly Justin…your view is always valued.
Have you been to a really big church? What was your experience like? Did it turn you off or make you want more? Why? If you haven’t ever been…why not? It’s cool if you’ve just always been happy where you are :), but if you’ve actively avoid them…why?
Help me out here, guys!