For well over a decade I've been troubled by the "mega church" growth phenomena, deeply troubled. Something wasn't right! About five years ago it occured to me they were no good for Kingdom growth.
Now a few are taking steps to correct at least part of what I view as problems ... massive pasturization at the expense of smaller pastures and their shepherds, a fortress mentality, and the syphoning off of talent and gifts from the small guys like a demon Hoover!Church doesn't get any bigger in Louisville than Southeast Christian, but its new leader has drawn a surprising conclusion.Good! Let's see it in the next five years.
"Big is out," says Dave Stone.Stone says Southeast Christian offers so many programs, such as support groups and Bible studies, that the lives of some members revolve around the church to the exclusion of other important things.That is a positive step and true; yet workers are still needed. Is there an aroma of anti-community here or is this a really good move? Time will tell!
"Some of you need to be home … with your family, or you need to be showing your neighbors what is distinctive about being a Christian," Stone said in a recent sermon.Stone wants to develop up to five Southeast Christian community centers across Kentuckiana, which eventually will double as satellite worship sites. That way, some of the church's estimated 19,500 members won't have to make regular 20- to 30-mile trips to the main sanctuary.Believers who make "20- to 30-mile trips" to worship are damaging Kingdom growth; they evidently don't see that they pass hundreds of struggling smaller churches on the way to their mega barn to be entertained.
His plans follow a trend among local megachurches, such as St. Stephen, Highview Baptist and Evangel World Prayer Center, which each already have at least one satellite campus.
I don't have a great deal of conficence the pastor's plans will correct that problem.Stone's plans for a more decentralized church are the most dramatic he has announced as he assumes leadership.Personally, here is where I agree with the Saddleback model of starting and supporting new church plants, as fast and as often as possible.
When Bob Russell, the senior minister of the church for four decades and the man who oversaw its growth, relinquished leadership in January, he endorsed Stone's plans.
Stone said he hopes to give members more time for volunteer pursuits such as AIDS care and helping the Red Cross.
Longtime members say they agree.
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