Part 1: What is a Megachurch?
Have you ever wanted your church to be a megachurch? Probably most people in our denomination have never thought this is a possibility. That could be because we have mostly rural churches in which reaching the 2000 attendance mark on a weekend would seem impossible. Others may not even want their church to be that large, even if it was possible. But, have you ever thought that Jesus would want your church to be a megachurch? In fact, I think Jesus wants every church to be a megachurch.
Before you think I’ve lost my mind, let me explain what I mean. First, I am not using the term megachurch, as it is usually used today. The term megachurch, as we commonly use it, refers to a church usually over 2000 in attendance on a weekend. It is a classification of a church determined primarily by its size. This is not what I mean by megachurch.
Secondly, the term “mega” comes from the Greek word “megas,” which means great. It can mean either “great in quantity” or “great in degree.” The way I want to use it would be in reference to being great in degree. The greatness I am talking about has nothing to do with size. The criteria by which a church is considered great (mega), from a kingdom of God perspective, is not determined by numbers. I am using the term “mega” to refer to greatness as described by Jesus from a kingdom of God perspective.
Unfortunately, all to often the church looks at things, such as greatness, from a perspective of worldly social and political structures. The disciples struggled with this. In Mark 9:33-37 we read the story of the disciples debating the issue of who was the “greatest” (mega). Jesus turns their perception of greatness (based on power and authority) on its head by telling them whoever desires to be first (preeminent) must be last and servant of all. Then He takes a small child and identifies Himself with the small child. Children in Jesus’ time were not the center of attention. They were powerless in the social and political structure of that day. They were anything but great or preeminent. Jesus is telling them that greatness, power, and authority in his kingdom looks very different from the way it looks in the structures of the world. Greatness in the kingdom comes from embracing the powerless.
Evidently, the disciples still didn’t grasp the full implications of greatness from a kingdom perspective because a few verses later in Mark 10:35-45 James and John come to Jesus asking to be promoted to places of greatness and power. Upon hearing about the two brothers’ request the other disciples were incensed. At this point Jesus describes greatness according to the world’s social and political structures. Greatness in the world, He says, is to “lord” it over someone and exercise “authority” over them. In other words, greatness according to the world depends upon coercion based upon social and political standing.
However, Jesus says, “But it shall not be so among you.” In other words, greatness in my kingdom is measured completely different. He then again defines for them greatness in His kingdom in relation to the socially and politically powerless. He says, “Whoever would be great (mega) among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first (preeminent) among you must be slave of all.” No one in His world would have ever equated being great (mega) with being a servant or a slave. They had no social or political standing. They were powerless. In case this description of greatness was too abstract for them, and possibly to startling, He then used Himself as the example of what He was talking about, “For even the Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve and give His life as a ransom for many.”
So what can we conclude about being great (mega) from the way Jesus describes it in these two passages? First, being great in the kingdom of God is the opposite of being great in the social and political structures of the world. Secondly, greatness is described as embracing the powerless (a child) by becoming the powerless (a servant). Thirdly, Jesus is the example of greatness in the kingdom of God, not because He is the sovereign creator, but because He became powerless (a servant) and embraced the powerless by laying down His life.
Therefore, what does it mean to be a megachurch (great church) from the perspective of God’s kingdom? A megachurch defined by kingdom values is a church that follows Jesus to embrace the powerless by embracing the powerless life of a servant. A church that is characterized by people who have embraced the socially and politically powerless life of a servant, as did Jesus, is a megachurch. The church characterized by people who will give their lives for the sake of the powerless, as did Jesus, is a megachurch. According to this understanding of a megachurch, I believe that Jesus wants your church to be a megachurch.
So the question now is, “How does your church become a megachurch?”