Just for the sake of argument we’ll call a mega-church as being greater than 1,000 people on a Sunday and we’ll call a mini-church as one smaller than 100. I don’t think one is better than another. I think they both have strengths and weaknesses. I think the goal of both is to be as great as they can at their strengths and try to limit their weaknesses as best they can. I don’t want to talk about a billion areas so I’m just going to talk about 2 – ministry and money. So let’s look at the strengths and weaknesses of these 2 areas and how to enhance the good and disperse the bad.
Ministry – Megas can obviously have more categories of ministry. They can minister to mom’s with preschool kids, fosters, empty nesters, and those who can’t have kids. They can have support groups for those struggling with drug addictions broken down into opioids, hallucinogens, stimulants, etc, etc. Mini-churches have small groups for “humans” or maybe young adults 18-39 (with a few 40+ that have younger kids and can pretend to be younger than they are.) Megas are kind of forced into a model of “sign-ups.” They can encourage everyone to sign-up for a small group or volunteer opportunity, but they feel limited in doing more than that. There’s no natural mechanism to check with people individually if they’ve signed up for something yet. Minis do have a natural mechanism. 2 or 3 people can literally ask everyone on a Sunday morning. The pastor can make an iNote of what every person says and what excuse they have. Small churches should not get in the sign-up trap. They can do it better. The problem is that megas can offer more to help more people, but the people that need the most help are usually slow to reach out for it. Because of the sheer number of people at a mega it can take forever to actually figure out who’s in need. Contrastingly, any proactive mini can figure out and help those in need pretty quickly. Megas also tend to have pretty incredible children and youth programs. They have the resources and facilities to do some pretty awesome stuff. In the same way megas need to help develop community through small groups, the same is true for next gen ministries. Just because minis are going to be naturally good at individual connection and generally pretty weak in a lot of other areas doesn’t mean they should just sit back on their laurels. Minis might not be able to do as much and very much shouldn’t try. They should focus on quality – one program at a time.
Money – Megas obviously bring in more money. Some megas bring in more money in a week than many minis bring in throughout an entire year. Likewise they have a greater potential to waste that money – gigantic conference rooms that are used once a month, inflatables that are used twice a year, hiring an on-site zoologist for the pets in the KidZone, or a full-time social media coordinator. Smaller churches aren’t immune from wasting money but it’s usually in the realm of buying styrofoam cups for a church potluck when someone just went to Sam’s Club and bought the 1,000 pack. Here’s the bottom line when it comes to money. Mega-churches bring in a lot of money and they should obviously spend what they bring in for the greatest use for the Kingdom. That should be constantly evaluated and they should make tough decisions to correct poor, past financial actions. (ie turn the social media coordinator into a facilities coordinator and have them connect with other local ministries that might need meeting space.) On the other end of the spectrum, Mini-churches often times don’t have money for basic concerns such as helping the poor or homeless, or supporting missionaries. It’s easy to just acquiesce and say you don’t have any money and you’ll do humanitarian aid such as that when you can afford to do so in a couple years. The problem is, later never comes. Expenses, personnel, and fascility costs only go up with time. If you don’t get creative and give, if even on a small scale now, you never will. I’d honestly love if some megas just gave a couple grand one week to a mini for the sheer purpose of meeting some needs that have been neglected or giving to some church member in crisis. Also, minis should call a local mega a share what needs they have. They might have a spare 70in tv or musician just sitting around in some back room. Many people actually have a problem saying “No.” Keep calling ’til you find a winner.
So obviously, I don’t like the mega-church vs mini-church arguments. I much prefer how they can help each other. They each invent new ways to minister and then they get perfected by the other. They need each other to help them stay focused on what the Kingdom of God is supposed to be – a growing, vibrant living organism. So use each other, help each other, give to each other, and serve each other. You’ll be better for it.