Thinking Out Loud

September 30, 2008

Better Isn’t Necessarily Bigger

Filed under: Christianity, Church — Tags: , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 8:38 pm

Size matters:  Small group Bible study from Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church

Kent Shaffer at has posted a teaser of the Top 100 Churches list published annually by Outreach Magazine.   You can read his listing of the Top 15, and you’ll notice the following:

  • Lakewood (Joel Osteen) stays at #1 for the third year in a row, with no one else even close
  • Ed Young’s Second Baptist Church of Houston captures the #2 spot from Willow Creek
  • Andy Stanley’s Northpoint Community Church (including Billings Bridge and Buckhead) has ascended from #12 (2006) to #7 (last year) to #3
  • Willow Creek (Bill Hybels) has slipped to #4
  • (Craig Groeschel’s 11 locations) stays locked at #5 for the second year
  • Saddleback (Rick Warren) is #8

In a reply to a comment, Kent points out you need at least 7,000 people to be considered.   (Given that, I don’t think one single church in Canada would qualify.)   Questions:

  • Have you felt a desire to visit a megachurch?
  • If you were a seeker, would the megachurch experience somewhat alter your understanding of basic Christianity?
  • If you go to a smaller church, do you envy people who are part of these congregations or do you think they should be envying you?
  • Is your general attitude, “Who cares?”  Are you somewhat unimpressed by this preoccupation with size?


  1. *Not interested in visiting.

    *I could not tell you as I think the term seeker is unscriptual.

    *I don’t envy them at all.

    *Very much uninterested.

    Comment by Mark R — October 1, 2008 @ 6:12 am

  2. I agree that there is a preoccupation with size that doesn’t matter.

    Growth, however, does matter. So, I guess if we measure success by impacting lives, eventually those people bring other people, and eventually you find yourself to be “big.”

    But, certainly, big isn’t the goal. Nor is it an indicator (by itself) of a church that’s honoring God.

    Comment by Rich Barrett — October 1, 2008 @ 6:54 am

  3. o Not in the LEAST.

    o Yes, for the worst.

    o They should be envying me. And for the record, I go to a “medium” church of 800 people or so, and then we attend the “ultra-contemporary” 6:00 p.m. Sunday service only, which averages about 25-50 attendees, so I get that “small church” feel even within the medium-sized church.

    o Completely unimpressed. And actually somewhat horrified.

    Comment by Jim — October 1, 2008 @ 7:55 am

  4. Well, if the first two comments are any indication…

    …The amazing thing is that many people, especial pastors are ABSOLUTELY FASCINATED by studying all these statistics

    Comment by Paul Wilkinson — October 1, 2008 @ 9:14 am

  5. Megachurch or not I think finding a church home is the most important this. I actually attend a “Megachurch”.

    I think that people being people and having the ability to choose and percieve on their own, meaning that everyones experience will be different. The big churches also facilitate for new christians or visitors. It just depends ont he circumstances. Christian fundamentals are not only taught in church congregations, but one on one with people and in home groups.
    If there are soo many people attending, the message conveyed cannot be so wrong!

    Christians should not envy. this is a stupid question.

    The size thing is stupid. What should be noed is that people are actually attending church and connecting with the Lord. Everything else is none of our business whilst in this life.

    We should Love our brothers and sisters and get the plank out of our eye quick smart!

    Comment by Perspective — June 24, 2009 @ 7:38 pm

    • With the last posted comment on this being October 1, 2008; I had to really rattle my brain to remember this one.

      It was my third question that people tended to respond to, the one containing the word “envy.” Personally, I think people in large churches should be somewhat envious of the community that can take place in a smaller, more intimate fellowship group; and I think people in smaller congregations should try to connect once or twice a year with the experience of corporate worship in a large group.

      But mostly, people in churches of either size should have a sense that those in the “opposite sized” church are their brothers and sisters.

      Comment by paulthinkingoutloud — June 24, 2009 @ 8:20 pm

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