Formation

What If the Pain Women Experience in the Church Better Equips Them to Lead?

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Mandy Smith is a member of our writing team, pastor of University Christian Church, and the emcee of Missio Alliance’s national gathering this March, Awakenings: The Life of the Church for the Sake of the World. Register now to learn more from diverse voices like her.


It’s a sad reality that many who are called to lead the Church also have wounds from the Church.

And there are unique ways in which that wounding happens for women.

But there is hope! In miraculous and surprising ways, as women heal from that painful experience, it actually equips us to lead. The healing we receive allows us to speak healing to the Church.

So to my sisters I want to say: if the Church has somehow communicated in harmful ways about your body, your gifts, your voice, or your calling, here are the healing words the Lord (also through his Church) has been speaking to me:

You have been told your body is shameful.
Too ordinary, too messy.
But there is One who says you are lovely
Because you are made by Him.
And He delights in you.

You have been told your gifts are unnecessary.
Too ordinary, too messy.
But there is One who gave you those gifts
And calls you to use them.
He delights in you.

You have been told your voice is unimportant.
Too ordinary, too messy.
But there is One who gave you your voice
And he calls you to use it.
He delights in you.

You have been told your calling is a lie.
You are too ordinary, too messy to be used by him.
But there is One who calls you.
Stand up and let him use you.
Ordinary and messy as you are,
Let him speak through you,
Through every story, every tear, every song.
He delights in you.
And he wants to show his delight through you.

You have been told your voice is unimportant. Too ordinary, too messy. But there is One who gave you your voice and calls you to use it. Click To Tweet

It’s taken years for me to receive this kindness. God is slowly healing the ways I’ve been tempted to see myself, showing me that my body, my voice, my gifts are not small, shameful, insignificant. As he lifts my head, I watch how something else wondrous becomes possible.

I’m now able to turn to my mother, the Bride. I’m able to speak this kind of truth over her, against all the lies she too has been told. Her misuse over the centuries has caused her to question her worth, forget her purpose, embrace the twisted identity others have created for her as they misuse her.

The more I receive these kind words of the Beloved, the more I can speak them over His Bride. I say to her:

You have been told your body is shameful.
Too ordinary, too messy.
But there is One who says you are lovely.
Because you are made by Him.
And He delights in you.

You have been told your gifts are unnecessary.
Too ordinary, too messy.
But there is One who gave you those gifts
And calls you to use them.
He delights in you.

You have been told your voice is unimportant.
Too ordinary, too messy.
But there is One who gave you your voice
And he calls you to use it.
He delights in you.

You have been told your calling is a lie.
You are too ordinary, too messy to be used by him.
But there is one who calls you.
Stand up and let him use you.
Ordinary and messy as you are.
Let him speak through you,
Through every story, every tear, every song.
He delights in you.
And he wants to show his delight through you.

The more I receive healing words from the Beloved, the more I can speak these same words over his Bride, the Church. Click To Tweet

Discover a community devoted to learning from the voices of women at the Awakenings Gathering: March 28-30, 2019 in Alexandria, Virginia. Awakenings is for people who are hungry to learn from diverse voices on difficult topics. Check out our speaker line-up and join us!

 

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42 responses to “NOBODY DENIES GOOD THINGS ARE HAPPENING AT THE MEGA CHURCH!

  1. yep, yep and amen.

    God is so gracious and so merciful and he will use a donkey, a murderer, a tax collector….and he will certainly use a mega church. But that doesn’t necessarily mean he’s putting his stamp of approval on the whole enterprise nor does it mean it’s a “model” to follow (at best) or idolize (at worst).

  2. Your thoughts are confirmed by research. One of the biggest studies, carried out across the world by Natural Church Development, found that congregations of less than 100 were 1600% more successful in bringing people into faith than the mega-churches!

  3. This reminds me of The Gates Foundation. Bill Gates gets to be TIME’s “person of the year” because he’s giving away some minute fraction of his massive wealth. Much of this “charity” involves installing Microsoft products in schools and non-profits eventually resulting … more wealth for Bill Gates!
    Is it really so good that the richest man on earth gives away one tenth of one percent of his net worth even if it isn’t a back handed attempt at increasing market share?

    Scott made a great point the other night when he pointed out that commodetizing (as the mega-churches do) what we do in our emerging churches is, to a large extent, unavoidable. But he also opened all his comments for the evening pointing out how ironic many emergents are. Self-aware irony may be the very thing that keeps us honest. Keeps us “authentic”. Keeps us aware that we cannot avoid commodetizing what we do, but allowing us the opportunity to reign it in as much as we are able.

    I’m not suggesting we slap “make a sarcastic, back-handed compliment for Jesus” on a t-shirt or anything (hmmm… those might sell), but if we can retain the intentionality of what we do, we can try to take what is best, and strip away what is excessive.

  4. good point jhimm. I think you’re right in fact. most of us know full well where we come from and where we’ll end up if we don’t have that extreme level of intentionality.

  5. Well said, David. As always, top notch.

    Peace,
    Jamie

    P.S. Would you be willing to contact me offlist? jamiearpinricci AT gmail d0t c0m

  6. Dave, I share your convictions to a certain point. I feel the same way about community yet I want to think about a mega meeting of Christians as something that is not a bad thing or an anti-Kingdom ideal. What is Biblically wrong or anti-Kingdom about some forms of decadence (large buildings that cost too much and/or expensive programs) for the influence that the Kingdom can have as a result. Is it wrong to obtain influence for the Kingdom. A large amount of influence allows for an organization to gain credibility, especially on a global scale that gives some the ability to be and do that which most of us will never have access to. In other words, knowing the ideal and working towards it, yet can we still play the games that the world plays to some degree for the purposes of the Kingdom and is it right to do so according to Calvin’s principle of the “Great Accomodation” in which God met the his covenant people where they were at in order to bring them to where He is. Do we have a meeting for business men interested in partnering in mission in a dingy church basement or do we ask them to come to a luncheon at the Hyatt which is what they are accustomed to within their world of work? We don’t have to be business men or business minded to do so, yet we can still be “accomodating” which may require some decadence.

    As organic as we should be we are incredibly human and will always seek the path of least resistance, which in this case is centralized administration over decentralized contexutal organization. How much of the “human/creaturely” factor do we allow in our convictions of how things can actually happen rather than how they should happen? Do our humanly limitations require us to have megachurces to some degree and is that okay though not ideal according to the limitations of our fallen nature?

  7. Yes – this reminds me of smthg Shane Claiborne says in Ordinary Radicals: wouldn’t it be great if the megachurches were known instead for their impressive buildings and great gold crosses but more for say, eradicating water poverty in a latin american country: definitely possible.

  8. When I read critiques of other churches like this, I remember Jesus’ words: He who is not against us is for us.
    As believers, let’s be united and not divisive.

  9. A quote or two…

    “Corporations are simply the kind of structure that rises when hordes of people need to be managed, and after spending some time in a large church, I’ve found that our spirituality does not exempt us from these inefficient and dehumanizing practices.”–Steve Lansingh’s review of “The Office” at The Film Form

    “We shape our buildings; thereafter they shape us.”– Winston Churchill

  10. Going to a mega church and reading your book are both interesting dicotomies of thought.

    I attend a church that has amazing things going on and I know a lot more then 20 being saved…but I resonate a lot with what you say in your book. A balance must be struck, but where? That is the million dollar question.

  11. Nathan .. wow … my problem with alot of what you said in your comment is the presumption that we can know what is and is not influence for the Kingdom … for in fact this is the work of God right? To think that we can make accomodations in order to gain influence and then know what we are doing in the way we use it, belies a hubris that I think is exactly what has led to the demise of evangelicalism. Afterall, all these”games” as you call it, have not grown the evangelical church or the numbers of Christians in N. America for the last forty years. In fact established evangelicalism as a whole is in a grand culturally accomodative malaise.

    We always go for numbers, for the big is better, thye sensational .. whatever attracts a crowd. Yet I like to tell the story of a certain large evangelistic organization who decided to do these great campaigns in Indonesia and Thailand in the early 1980’s. Using a sensational Jesus Film crusade approach, and four spiritual laws booklets, they managed to get 35,000 conversions recorded in Thailand and over 80,000 in Indonesia. As the man who led both of these endeavors told me 20 years later, they went back two years later, and couldn’t find a one of these conversions (I couldn’t believe my ears and asked him to put it in writing for me).
    What I am saying is that we need not say all that big and sensational is bad or anti-Biblical, we need merely to discern what is truly transformational discpleship. For the quest for money and sensationalism has a tendency to distract from the on the ground daily faithfulness that true missional life looks like. Here numbers and production simply don’t tell 98% of the story.

    I continue to believe “the revolution will not be televised”..

    Peace bro … DF

  12. Nathan .. wow … my problem with alot of what you said in your comment is the presumption that we can know what is and is not influence for the Kingdom … for in fact this is the work of God right? To think that we can make accomodations in order to gain influence and then know what we are doing in the way we use it, belies a hubris that I think is exactly what has led to the demise of evangelicalism. Afterall, all these”games” as you call it, have not grown the evangelical church or the numbers of Christians in N. America for the last forty years. In fact established evangelicalism as a whole is in a grand culturally accomodative malaise.

    We always go for numbers, for the big is better, thye sensational .. whatever attracts a crowd. Yet I like to tell the story of a certain large evangelistic organization who decided to do these great campaigns in Indonesia and Thailand in the early 1980’s. Using a sensational Jesus Film crusade approach, and four spiritual laws booklets, they managed to get 35,000 conversions recorded in Thailand and over 80,000 in Indonesia. As the man who led both of these endeavors told me 20 years later, they went back two years later, and couldn’t find a one of these conversions (I couldn’t believe my ears and asked him to put it in writing for me).
    What I am saying is that we need not say all that big and sensational is bad or anti-Biblical, we need merely to discern what is truly transformational discpleship. For the quest for money and sensationalism has a tendency to distract from the on the ground daily faithfulness that true missional life looks like. Here numbers and production simply don’t tell 98% of the story.

    I continue to believe “the revolution will not be televised”..

    Peace bro … DF

  13. yet can we still play the games that the world plays to some degree for the purposes of the Kingdom and is it right to do so according to Calvin’s principle of the “Great Accomodation” in which God met the his covenant people where they were at in order to bring them to where He is. Do we have a meeting for business men interested in partnering in mission in a dingy church basement or do we ask them to come to a luncheon at the Hyatt which is what they are accustomed to within their world of work? We don’t have to be business men or business minded to do so, yet we can still be “accomodating” which may require some decadence.

    The more I read about Calvin, the more I wish I knew more about the guy. But…sorry for my tactlessness…but this sounds TO ME like a load (so take that for what its worth). “May require some decadence”? Huh?

    I remember seeing a news story about some young Christian lady’s who used to be strippers in LA going to strip clubs to “evangelize” and “let those girls know that they are loved.” Uummm…OK. My take on that isn’t totally set…but that does partially strike me as kinda wierd. I mean…those places are the descendents of the “sex-and-religion” shrines. Those places were best-case-scenario cumbled to dust and ashes rather than “accomodated to for the sake of evangelism thus requiring some decadence.” Oddly enough the example of having a meeting at the Hyatt sounds like an easier one to me than the idea of “evangelizing” at strip clubs. It sounds like…plain and simple…a bad idea.

    Funnily enough I bet those who would disagree with me on that…mostly…would blast “situationist” ethics…as part of their critique of “relativism, pluralism and postmodern nihilism.”

    Done sort of venting. Didn’t mean to offend anyone really.

  14. David, I know this was years ago now, but when we were part of Calvary Church in Grand Rapids with Ed Dobsen as pastor, it was said that well over 30% of their giving went to missions. Not only that, but as is true with a number of these larger, mega-churches in this area, there are many good activities going on throughout the city.

    But key for me is that we must be church and in an organic manner, and when everything is programmed to the hilt, well, that in itself does not facilitate this necessary dynamic and reality.

    But dont’ smaller churches sometimes try to take on dynamics of these mega-churches? At any rate we need this life among us and out from us into community if we’re to be doing what in Jesus we are called to do as church.

  15. Nathan,

    Your argument sounds like the ends justifies the means, which I don’t agree with on any level, since it is our walk, our means, which is the true testimony of our faith. That being said, I believe that God is in the process of transforming evil to good, therefore any of our mistakes ultimately turn out for good. But I wouldn’t use that to justify using any means.

    Dave,

    Sorry I haven’t read your book. While I do agree with your perspective on the weakness of a corporate/sensational approach that is present in many larger churches, I think that the large church has an important role in the christian community that can’t be duplicated on a smaller scale. When God blesses us with more, he expects us to be more responsible. The problem comes when we start to take credit for something God’s doing. Nebucanezer had to eat grass for his pride. I do think there are some large corporations who are doing business well (not just making lots of money). I think that most persons leading large corporations tend to be just as spiritually immature as the rest of us, therefore their businesses express that immaturity. Particularly the immaturity of mammon. Usually our abilities to accomplish something vastly out strip our maturity to do it well. Fortunately, we have a God who doesn’t mind messes.

    Peace,
    Maria Kirby

  16. Sorry Dave,

    I just reread your bolded “I am not asking that all mega churches cease existence.”

    I had a gut reaction to:
    “how the structures/rituals of megachurches form Christians into passive observers, consumers of entertainment and gospel information”

    It reminded me of reading Bernard of Clairvaux where he talks about the first degree of love: love of self for self’s sake and the second degree of love: love of God for self’s sake.

    I’m not sure that the megachurch forms people into passive observers or consumers. I think that’s where we start naturally. It may unintentionally reinforce those tendencies. Hopefully the megachurch experience is one on the continuum of an evermore increasingly intimate relationship with God and his church that expands the understanding of love.
    Maria Kirby

  17. This is an excellent observation about mega church dynamics. It is so American to think that bigger is better, but Jesus started with 12, not 70.

    Today I listened to a sermon by the Anglican Archbishop of Uganda, Henry Orombi, who made it clear that numbers, like property are by-products of obedient, Spirit-directed lives. They are not the goal.

  18. Hmmm. First time here. I am reading through “The Forgotten Ways” and find I am reading about things that have been on my mind for over a year. I have too many thoughts to be coherent here, but take my word I am very well versed in mega-church thinking and practices.

    I have often been tangled in my own mind about the efficiencies of ministry in that context (mega). On the other hand, I have always been repulsed by the artsy feely stylish vibe of all things “emergent”. It is not a style, unless you want it to fade out of style. It is not a vibe, these things drift with time and cultural shifting. If this missional thing is going to take, it has to be centered on what it stands for, not on pointing out what other things “aren’t”.

    What I am attracted to is the undeniable sense I have that we are called out. Not to a community center, or a cool production, or a vibey worship arts setup. We are called out to seek and to save the lost and the hurting. Why is it that most “emergent” produced things focus on urban settings, high need for the hip factor, etc. Believe me, there are as many of those in suburbia as there are in urban settings. If it is the closest thing we can see of a Biblical model of c”hurch”, then it is not confined to a setting, or to a culture, or to a generation. It is something that should be tangible to anyone, anywhere. I can picture that in my neghborhood, largely suburban young families. I need to start a church that is EM. I need to leave the professional ministry, I need to get a real job. I need to reach out to my community that I live amongst, and I need to live an authentic Jesus lifestyle showing and living love and compassion and help those around me. We stay in God’s word, we surround those in need with whatever form of relief is needed. If I have the Answer I need to share it. If I have resources(time/wisdom/money/knowledge), I need to share them. I need to be transparent and open, believe me I hve plenty of faults of my own which need to be surrounded.

    Ok bear with me…So fast forward…1 year…what does this look like? 5-10 couples meeting in lets say the community clubhouse of our neighborhood pool. We are doing exactly what when we meet? How often do we meet? Is this basically a big “small group”? And are we learning parenting skills together? Helping each other raise kids in a way that honors God and sets them on a path of integrity? If we grow then just send them away to start their own “simple churches”? Are we watching tapes of some stale video preaching? Are we worshipping together in songs and prayer?

    Help me out. I can kinda see it…then it gets hazy…

    Cut me a little slack, like I said first time here…and very submerged in the “mega” church culture…very submerged but swimming for the light…

  19. David,

    I was wondering why you said,”I am not asking that all mega churches cease existence.” I mean I’m with makeesha that God will use “broken vessels” but what would be so bad if they were to all go away? Because they ARE broken and the inherent deficiencies outweigh the postive values.

  20. sancho .. sorry to not reply … I have a busy life… teaching and pastoring (and being a father-husband). So … I try to post once a week… and reply a few times a week. Having said all that, your questions are very large, and there are alot of them. There is no way to really give you any help in a comment form reply. I do hope however to start a series of posts where I (and others)talk about the various practices of our church, worship, preaching, missional engagement, community, triads etc… talk about teh struggles and what we do and why etc… Hope to start in a couple of months on that … hope that will help. Blessings

  21. thanks for responding David.

    I guess I thought perhaps others on the forum would also comment or reply or chip in.

    No worries. I will keep reading and checking in here.

    Thanks

  22. Sancho

    I was Children’s Pastor at my mega church and left two years ago. My wife and I started a home church which has kind of grown and subsided. We have about 10 families involved. I left my mega not really knowing what or how I was going to “do” church. But we have managed. On one hand you know what not to do and on the other you don’t know what to do.

    At first our forum mirrored every other evangelical/charismatic church service, but it has been changing as more people get comfortable. It is amazing how much we have been trained to be passive in church settings.
    But people are starting to really participate. Our growth can’t be seen in external things like buildings or numbers. But many of us are experiencing a spiritual renewal.

    I say jump in. There is always time to arrange and rearrange formats.

  23. Sancho,

    Let me urge you to take a look at Alan Hirsch’s blog (I don’t remember seeing you there)…where you will find lots of things to help you process his book with lots of folks who have been in your shoes.

    Hope to see you at theforgottenways!

    Blessings,

  24. Loving what you have to say here, but I do have one comment. You say:

    “Let us not extrapolate from some good things happening in individual lives, or in a number of small groups in the M-church’s neighborhood, that these things are happening across the entire spectrum of the 18-20,000 people coming to the megachurch”

    Which is true, but that same logic can and should be applied to what you, or I, and doing at my “church”. Just because my small group, house church is doing great does not mean that it is spread across and is true of all the other “groupings” within that larger context of Church.

    I agree that what is happeing in the Mega-Church is appalling, but lets not use selective logic in damning them when what is wrong is otherwise apparently clear.

  25. sancho .. I highly recommend Alan Hirsch’s blog .. check my blogroll

    spam … not sure how you got that? For one, could I even use this logic on small church? For how could I? If the logic goes that everything is magnified 100 times by the megachurch … the reverse might be true of the organic missional community .. where everyday missional engagment of the ordinary becomes the routine … and acts of mission and transformation become in a sense made more normal, less sensational, we don’t see promotional videos in missional churches or do we? and I don’t think even if missional church wanted to extrapolate … there would be anything big to extrapolate it to? It’s this observation, the mega church’s ability to make isolated occureances seem large, and thereby mesmerize and capture media and church denominational attention that I wish to reveal and talk about in this post..

    Peace … and thanks for joining this conversation…

  26. David,

    Do you have any objective data to support your conclusions? You cited only one book which, admittedly, I haven’t read, but was published twelve years ago (and so was probably based on data from fifteen or twenty years ago) and was focused on only one model of a mega-church: Willow Creek.

    You also mentioned your “tentative conclusion…after traveling and talking around the country for 2 years,” but your book was published 2 years ago. So it doesn’t seem like your conclusions are based on new data or observations or research, but were already solidified when you wrote your book several years ago.

    The reason I say all this is because I’ve been involved in both small and large churches and I’ve seen some of the same tendencies you mentioned in small non-produced, organic missional churches as well. So I’m wondering if someone can cut through the contrasting anecdotal evidence and opinions and provide some more objective conclusions. What do you think?

    Norton

  27. Norton …

    There is anecdotal evidence by pastors in alot of places … blogosphere, personal interactiosn with stuydies done by individual churches. Interestingly, Willow has just produced a study entitled REACH where they claim they reveal all thewir dirty laundry on this. Haven’t seen it and am a little suspicious of “the hype” … Nonethless I am open and willing and interested in their self reflections. But all in all, I don’t know if eveidence is the issue here, but whether we are willing to ask the questions in the first place.
    Blessings .. thanks for entering the conversation

  28. I have read and have a copy of REACH. I have to say while it is definitely to some degree an open minded release, it does feel like it has been “spun” to me. It is not sensational in and of itself. The basic conclusion is they arrive at is: Participation in church “programs” of any kind is not a reliable indicator or catalyst of spiritual maturity/growth.

    The important issue is that the question is being asked. Being part of a very large church myself, I am not convinded that “asking the question” will change anything. The “group think” that exists at mega church leadership levels tends to be self propigating i.e. “we need to be more intentional and missional, we need to reach out in authentic ways, we need to be ‘salt and light’….I know, lets start a new cool program designed to reach college kids! Tell the design team to create a logo-“. Do you get what I am saying? The larger the church, the steeper the slope. Big ships turn slowly over many miles. Sometimes the Word and the deed DO NOT go hand in hand. Changing a paradigm is most difficult. I can’t speak for every mega church, but even in a well meaning, Bible teaching discipleship environment believe me it is a BATTLE to keep the main thing the main thing.

  29. David,

    Thanks for your response. However, I’m still a little baffled about why objective evidence isn’t important to substantiate your assertions and conclusions. I agree that megachurches must be willing and open to ask the tough questions. But how else can one determine if smaller, more organic, less produced churches are have more “significant impact for salvations, justice and outreach” in the absence of objective criteria and numerical data? Anecdotes and blogs, as helpful as they are, shouldn’t be the primary basis of such wide-sweeping conclusions about the effectiveness of all megachurches. Wouldn’t you agree?

    Norton

  30. David,

    I think I’m with Norton here. I attend a mega-church, and found myself intrigued by your argument. (and the fact that I wasn’t at all offended speaks of your objective tone, so thanks!) And yet, even while I wondered if you’re right, that’s all I could do. Because without data, the argument’s purely conjecture. Of course, those who don’t like mega will agree. And those who support it will disagree. (and both based on reasonable anecdotal evidence…)

    Based on your post, it would seem easy enough to compare four data points (staff, budget, attendees, and baptisms) for churches and derive a “Kingdom activity” ratio. And then we could really compare apples to apples. For example, church A has 150 staff, $20M budget, 10k attendees, and 150 baptisms in a given year. Church B has 5 staff, $750k budget, 500 members, and 5 baptisms in a given year. Dollar for dollar, staff for staff, member for member, which bore more fruit?

    Do you know of a study like this? If so, I think that would add tremendous value to your discussion…

    Thanks for the interesting post.
    Jason

  31. Norton…I’m not D.F., of course…but I think I can somewhat predict his response to a small degree and so save him a small bit of time. And on top of that I kind of just want to respond a bit anyway…so you should probably take what I’m about to say as my words rather than is…of course…

    You said: Thanks for your response. However, I’m still a little baffled about why objective evidence isn’t important to substantiate your assertions and conclusions.

    As for the “objective” part, I think many folks would say that the very consideration that such “objective truth”, esp. in the context of something like a social science, is: A) impossible, and B) a rotting fruit of modernity, and C) simply a bad idea, in the same way that the Tower of Babel was a bad idea (the social sciences came from the posotivist notion of the “good” in “predicting the general progress of all humanity”…which is a bit absurdly god-like).

    As for the “evidence” part, I think many folks out there wouldn’t necessarily want to throw the notion of “evidence” out the window, but I would also guess that many folks are highly suspect of the weight it carries in the empirical sciences, which are also a product of modernity and Enlightenment thought.

    And I would imagine D.F. would have many more thoughts on the above as well as many more better and more substantial thoughts on the specifics of various “objective” and “subjective” “truths” or “falsities” in the current world of American evangelicaldome.

    Peace and Goofiness 🙂

    Jason (Hesiak 🙂

  32. Jason Hesiak,

    Thanks for your thoughts. I agree that words/concepts like “objective” and “empirical evidence” are becoming fossils of the Enlightenment and modernity and so on. But I don’t think that really applies here.

    Let’s be real honest and pragmatic here. If someone says that LSU is a better football team than Penn State, we can determine whether that assertion is well-founded by looking at all kinds of data. If I’m trying to decide whether to buy a Toyota or a Kia, I read consumer reports and trust their conclusions because of the wealth of tests they have performed. If a person is considering whether a neighborhood is safe or not, looking at crime rate statistics would be a good idea. If you’re choosing a doctor to perform life-threatening surgery, you’re probably going to want some numbers about the amount of procedures he or she has performed and rates of success as you consider them.

    So, when I hear someone make assertions (quite strong in book form) that a certain type of organization (A) is less successful or healthy or effective than another type of organization (B), I think it’s entirely appropriate to put forth some basic data comparing A and B. Without any reasonable data, one’s conclusions just become opinions and nothing more. Wouldn’t you agree? How can one assert that there would be “bigger” impact if we dispersed 15,000 people from a megachurch to smaller churches without any data to support this?

    In fact, what if I had data that supported just the opposite? What if I could show a study done by Harvard Business School of 2,000 churches, both small and mega that revealed that the large majority of small churches spent more money per capita on staff, resources, and facilities and produced less converts and contributions to social justice ministries per capita than megachurches did? Would that make a difference? If so, why would that evidence be needed to validate the effectiveness of megachurches, when you didn’t require “evidence” to support David’s argument?

    Just my 3 cents. 🙂

    Norton

  33. yo Norton …sorry to miss your comments… I had already moved on to the next posts. But I think the issue here is that what it mean to say x, y or z is a success, or that a and b “works”.. or the measurement of any numbers are in themselves theological questions … with profound theological assumptions … and that therefore… we need to think through what we’re saying when someone says ..”I know so and so who was marvelously saved at ACME megachurch .. and whether that merits theologically endorsing the policies and frameworks of the megachurch …
    Peace

  34. Hello David. Relative to this post you may enjoy this article by Mark Galli from this morning’s Christianity Today – on marketing and the church growth movement of the past 30 years (which goes hand in hand with mega churches), versus being a witness.
    http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2007/octoberweb-only/140-42.0.html
    As well, the post calls to mind Henri Nouwen’s book Lifesigns, where he points out the significant difference between fruitfulness (love based) and productivity (fear based), inspired by a comment made by Jean Vanier, who’s work in Christian community, justice and mercy is truly profound (and fruitful too!).

  35. David,

    I totally agree…there are huge theological, philosophical, and sociological considerations to be made when collecting any data. It must be done carefully and thoughtfully, and so on. That said, shouldn’t it still be done? Why wouldn’t it be done? How else can success be defined and measured? We make decisions in our lives every single day based on numerical evidence and “objective” data. Why would we not do it here? Why would it be acceptable in this conversation to make assertions without any objective evidence to support them? I still don’t understand.

    Thanks for your patience with me… 🙂

    Norton

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