As the American church finds herself amidst drastic cultural shifts, economic new realities and divergence in macr0-thinking about life and meaning, how will she respond? Will she lament only about the “good ole days” where she dominated cultural creation and was referenced as a major player in civic life? Will she continue her obsession with “end times” theologies of a kind of Platonic dualism where this world is wretched and the hope is to hunker down wait for Jesus to come back to their spiritual home in the by and by? (I see this approach as blatantly fatalistic) Or will she find courage to think differently, to be creative and find new ways to serve and care for her cities and neighborhoods?The American mega church (churches 2,000 or more) have been built on the foundation of the hyper-individualism in later modernism. Choice, preference, comfort, convenience, professional specialists, digital environments and a savy eye towards both mass and niche marketing have contributed to their growth and perceived relevance.
“The church of the third millennium finds itself amidst a culture that has become ‘nothing but a meeting place of individual wills, each with its own set of attitudes and preferences and who understand that world solely as an arena for the achievement of their own satisfaction, who interpret reality as a series of opportunities for their enjoyment and for whom the last enemy is boredom.” – Veli-Matti Karkkainen An Introduction to Ecclesiology (p. 228)
I used to be a voice against all things mega, but I have softened quite a bit in that area. There are questions I have, but there are also questions I have about my own church, and I’m the planter of it ;-). I really don’t see a right or wrong in the “how” of church anymore, I am just seeking true ekklesia. I believe ekklesia can be found in mega, traditional, rural, mainline, micro, simple, organic, house, multi-campus etc. , I also believe that unhealthy church can be found in these same modalities. I believe now that church structure is neutral, it is the response of the people to Christ and his Spirit that bring meaning to the structure. Take those elements away and you can find institutionalization in mega and unhealthy cults in micro communities.Recently I have been in conversation with Joe Boyd and Kevin Rains , two guys who I deeply respect their hearts for God and their hearts for our city. Joe is leading an initiative with Vineyard Community Church here in Cincinnati, a mega church of 6,000 plus that has a solid reputation for being people who serve and care about others. VCC is branching out believing that their future is as a harmonious structure of mega celebrations (6,000 plus), campus sites (100-300) and micro-communities (3-15 or so). They see value in each structure and believe the way forward is not more of the same, but trying things differently. I for one, applaud their efforts and am glad to be advising with them on the micro-communities.Resurgam is Latin for “I will rise again”. I wonder, both to myself and out loud, is a marriage between mega-church and micr0-church a way for the American church to move forward and rise again within culture? Not from above, but from below. Where we are known not for our dogmas, but for our communal nature and search for meaning. There are idealogical differences in the ways of thinking between micro and mega, but there is one Christ and one Spirit who forms the Church. If we keep our focus on them, there is hope for a Resurgam within the American Church. I’m in.peace,Marshall