What do you think of when you hear the word mega?
If you’re into the lottery, maybe “Mega Millions,” right? Or if you’re a fan of the Transformer’s franchise, “Megatron” comes to mind.
Mega is a unit prefix in the metric system – denoting a factor of one million.
For example, with digital cameras, we talk about mega pixels: an 8-mega pixel camera can record up to 8 million pixels.
Mega is also used to describe the explosive power of nuclear weapons – as “megatons,” and the frequency of electromagnetic radiation – as “megahertzs.”
But what we’re talking about today is church…
Specifically THIS church: NWLife.
The term megachurch describes a protestant church having 2,000 or more people in average weekly attendance (note: I think it’s funny how with churches the measurement is now about 2,000 instead of a million – which reveals our tendency to overstate, brag, make a something sound better than it really is).
There are 1,300 of these churches in the United States, and there are 50 churches with an average attendance exceeding 10,000. The highest recorded average church attendance in the US is 47,000.
The largest current megachurch in the world is South Korea’s Full Gospel Church of the Assemblies of God with over 800,000 members.
NOW – that’s a lot of numbers. And that’s not exactly what I want to emphasize.
I know, I know… numbers matter. They matter because they represent people – and people matter.
The population surrounding our church – just a few miles in diameter – is over 300,000. Close to 20% of our population lives at or below the poverty level. And only 22% of our population profess faith in Jesus Christ. This means that 240,000 in our immediate community are not Christians and do not know God personally.
240,000. That’s how much our church could grow
But it’s easy to become preoccupied with numbers in a very soulless, cold, industrial, nameless, faceless, ticks on a piece of paper kind-of way. I’ve been around church where it’s this way: machinery, heartless, soulless, a pyramid scheme…
Nothing like a farmer and his farm. Or a happy couple growing a young and healthy family.
Or a Good Shepherd who goes after the ONE and brings her home.
So, to be perfectly honest with you, I resist this empire-building, size-amassing, factory-feeling notion of church.
I do care very much about reaching people in our community. People with names. People with faces. People with stories.
Numbers aren’t our goal. It’s hard to even use the word goal without sounding all muti-level marketing…
This is why I don’t want us to be a megachurch.
We don’t exist for goals. Or buildings. Or getting our name at the top of a list of churches.
People are the point. Because people matter to God and they matter to us.
I’m talking about individuals…
Neighbors. Co-workers. Baristas. Accountants. Cousins. Aunts. Uncles. Drunks. Jerks. Conservatives. Liberals. Gays. Straight. Old. Young. Hipsters. And the unhip too.
It’s less about 240,000 and more about the ONE. And there’s always ONE MORE.
Going back to mega for a moment – this prefix actually comes from the Greek word megas, meaning “great.”
Maybe that’s a better concept for us to aspire to – that our church be mega / great / unprecedented / at least in a few really important areas…
1. I want us to be mega-loving.
Unprecedented in our compassion, disproportionately large in our generosity, big-time in our kindness, huge in giving grace and second-chances and forgiveness.
2. I want us to be mega-bridge-builders.
Great at peace-making, massive in uniting – bringing people together and making our city a better place. Huge in the work of reconciliation and healing. Big time restorers of dignity and value and worth in people.
3. I want us to be mega-humble.
Surprising people with how honest we are about our own struggles and failures and weaknesses. Willing to go lower – taking on the big dirty messes – to serve and make a difference in the lives of others.
Mega loving, mega bridge-building, and mega humble…
These are the reasons why I want to be a mega church. And I believe, with God’s help we will be a great, I mean a really really great, church.