MEGACHURCH & Read the latest report by Hartford Seminary = multiple venues let you have multiple cultural expressions & smaller groups foster friendship & discipleship.

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: ever since I studied one of the first megachurches that grew exponentially by moving in to multiple smaller venues, St. Thomas’ Church of Sheffield England, in the 1990s I’ve been a big advocate of multiple sites and smaller groups for almost any church.

(See the chapter I wrote on St. Thomas’ Church of Sheffield, England in Ryan Bolger’s The Gospel After Christendom: New Voices, New Cultures, New Expressions)

That’s because I’ve seen in the churches I’ve coached that multiple venues let you have multiple cultural expressions and smaller groups foster friendships and discipleship.

More research has continued to support this, including the latest exhaustive research from Hartford Seminary. 

Read the latest research here (there are valuable church health and growth insights for any size church): hirr.hartsem.edu/megachurch/2020_Megachurch_Report.pdf

MEGACHURCHES & Report discovers they continue to grow as they emphasize small groups, embrace modern worship and diversify, but steer clear of politics.

by Bob Smietana, Relcion News Service.

A pre-pandemic, national survey of megachurches from the Hartford Institute for Religion Research found the median megachurch draws about 4,100 attenders to its worship services, up from about 3,700 in 2015. 

The average megachurch budget is $5.3 million, up from $4.7 million in 2015. Seven out of 10 have more than one location. Six out of 10 (58%) say they have a multiracial congregation.  

Despite the decline among Christian groups overall, most megachurches seem to be doing well, said Scott Thumma, professor of sociology of religion at Hartford Seminary and director of Hartford Institute.

“They continue to do things that other congregations should be doing,” Thumma said.

Thumma said the use of contemporary worship — along with a focus on small groups and international diversity — has helped megachurches continue to grow. Megachurches, in general, he said, also tend to steer clear of controversy, staying away from culture wars or political battles.

Read more at … https://religionnews.com/2020/10/29/report-megachurches-continue-to-grow-and-diversity-steer-clear-of-politics/

CHURCH HISTORY & Lessons/Warnings From the Church Growth of Willow Creek Community Church. #ScotMcKnight

by Scot McKnight, Christianity Today, 10/4/20.

…In the middle of this story about the 20th Century evangelicalism will be Willow Creek Community Church [WCCC] and its innovative seeker-friendly church services. At the heart of Willow Creek’s innovation was Bill Hybels. That story will be told in its fullness, which means readers of that day will hear of a Saul-like crisis. …

Seeker Friendly Services

WCCC created a world-wide interest in “seeker-friendly services,” a type of church service easy on ”unchurched Harry and Sally.” What Hybels and his innovative, courageous team of leaders formed was a style of worship that was friendly to the unchurched as well as to the formerly churched.

Relevancy to contemporary concerns – from politics to marriage to family to finances to moral challenges – would be the door to evangelism, while it would also, ironically, turn the platformed speakers into authentic humans with real struggles and pains and depressions and doubt. Authenticity has always been cultivated by WCCC as an image. When most churches were still traditional in all ways – sermons, job descriptions, architecture, a cross behind the pulpit, choirs in robes – WCCC courageously found other ways: sermons were more casual, job descriptions creative, architecture that looked like a movie theater with theater seating, no cross, no baptismal, no choirs in robes. Instead, we found platform singers that were physically shaped and dressed like rock stars. Instead of preaching through books of the Bible, which was the custom of many evangelical churches and the heart of seminary-trained preaching classes, Hybels went after crowd-attracting hot topics.

The audience was no longer sinners or saints but seekers, people wondering about God. So what was attractive and inoffensive to the seeker, instead of the churchgoer, determined the content of the talks from the platform.

One of the most courageous elements of early WCCC was an egalitarian approach to male-female relations and of the affirmation of women preachers, teachers, and elders. Nancy Beach’s well-known and much-loved sermons at Willow are but one example of the support of women in ministry. The decision to hold up women as preachers influenced churches throughout the world, but was just as much – if not more – a step in the direction of relevancy. It made a statement at the right time in American history: women’s equality in the church corresponded to the Equal Rights Amendment.

This must be said: since Nancy Beach resigned WCCC has chosen not to hire a woman teaching pastor. The new leaders at WCCC now seem to this observer uncommitted to women teaching pastors. What was once a courageous conviction has become a bygone era at WCCC.

Church after church and preacher after preacher followed Willow’s attractional model and began teaching about hot topics. Pastors stopped dressing the part – no clerical collars, no suit-and-tie – and the physically attractive became the future images of the megachurch. Heads and bodies became godlike as Willow began to project images onto stadium-sized screens. Speakers were taught how to look into the camera so they would appear to be looking at the doubting, skeptical seeker sitting in the nosebleeds.

Everything was designed to be culturally relevant and as inoffensive as the gospel can be (and still be called the gospel). Bill Hybel’s easy-to-understand gospel was the Bridge Illustration gospel. Humans in one place, God in another, a huge chasm between, with the cross bridging the gap, and with faith and coming forward as the means of getting unchurched Harry and Sally across and on to God’s team.

Thousands and thousands of believers today are believers because of Willow’s influence on being more seeker-friendly and -sensitive.

The seeker-friendly model, tied as it was into the church growth movement as well as the attractional model of church, has had its day. Many have learned to talk gospel and talk church and talk God in ways that are sensitive to those who did not grow up in churches. For this we can all be grateful.

Read more at … https://www.christianitytoday.com/scot-mcknight/2020/october/legacy-of-willow-creek-1.html

ATTENDANCE & A map showing the number of #megachurches in each region of the US.

The Hartford Institute for Church Research, Hartford Seminary

CHURCH HEALTH & The Big Get Bigger While the Small Get Smaller

by Aaron Earls, Christianity Today, 3/7/19.

…Growth is not absent from American churches,” said Scott McConnell, executive director of LifeWay Research. “But rapid growth through conversions is uncommon.”

The research gives a clear picture of the state of Protestant churches in America today.

  • Most have fewer than 100 people attending services each Sunday (57%),
  • including 21 percent who average fewer than 50.
  • Around 1 in 10 churches (11%) average 250 or more for their worship services.

Three in five (61%) pastors say their churches faced a decline in worship attendance or growth of 5 percent or less in the last three years. Almost half (46%) say their giving decreased or stayed the same from 2017 to 2018.

More than 2 in 5 churches (44%) only have one or fewer full-time staff members. Close to 9 in 10 pastors (87%) say their church had the same or fewer number of full-time staff in 2018 as they had in 2017, including 7 percent who cut staff.

In 2018, few churches added new multi-site campuses (3%) or were involved in some form of planting a new church (32%). Sixty-eight percent say they had no involvement in church planting. Around 1 in 10 (12%) say they were directly or substantially involved in opening a new church in 2018, including 7 percent who were a primary financial sponsor or provided ongoing financial support to a church plant.

“The primary purpose of this study was to obtain a set of objective measures on churches’ reproduction and multiplication behaviors today as well as to understand their core context of growth,” said Todd Wilson, chief executive officer of Exponential. “By combining these measures, we can help churches think about multiplication.”

Declining, plateaued, or growing?

Twenty-eight percent of Protestant pastors say their church has seen worship service attendance shrink by 6 percent or more compared to three years ago.

Another 33 percent say their church has remained within 5 percent, while 39 percent say their congregation has grown by at least 6 percent since the first quarter of 2016.

Read more at … https://www.christianitytoday.com/news/2019/march/lifeway-research-church-growth-attendance-size.html

SUB-CONGREGATIONS & How Megachurches Are Going Small … and Why

by Aaron Earls, Facts & Trends, LifeWay, 3/29/16.

Why Megachurches Go Small

Larger churches often recognize what small churches might miss—there are advantages to being little. Through small groups, multisite campuses, and now microsites, those megachurches are attempting to continue their growth while retaining small-church benefits.

“Churches are taking advantage of Dunbar’s number,” says Bob Whitesel, a professor at Indiana Wesleyan University and church growth expert. Robin Dunbar, a British anthropologist, found humans can comfortably maintain only around 150 stable relationships. Beyond that, says Whitesel, “relationships don’t seem to have much depth.”

This is why he believes many churches stall around this plateau. “Once it gets bigger than that, people stop inviting others because they no longer know everyone else at church,” he says.

It’s incumbent on large church leaders to capitalize on smaller groups that organically emerge in the church. Whitesel calls these “sub-congregations,” and they mirror other numbers Dunbar found in his research. Groups of 50 can unite around a task, such as the music ministry or preschool volunteers. Small group gatherings of 15 have the feel of an extended family, and groups of five are intimate connections.

These numbers have been seen not only in sociological research but also in church history, Whitesel says. “In the Wesleyan revivals, every leader had to be involved in what they called ‘Band Meetings’ of five individuals. Larger groups of 15 were called ‘Class Meetings.’”

With this sociological and historical support, church consulting experts identify at least four areas that can be more easily developed in smaller churches…

Read more at … http://factsandtrends.net/2016/03/29/when-big-goes-small-how-large-churches-are-learning-from-those-with-less/#.Vx9NIMj3aJI

MEGACHURCH & How U.S.-style megachurches are taking over the world, in 5 maps

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: This research by the Hartford Institute for Religion Research and Leadership Network points out that megachurches are internationally comprised of lower socio-economic congregants, while in No. America they are reaching mostly an upper socio-economic strata. This has implications for the goals and economies of megacongregations. For instance, is there greater responsibility put upon these churches and for what missional end? Read this article before you craft your answer.

By Rick Noack and Lazaro Gamio, The Washington Post, 7/24/15.

world-megachurches3.jpg&w=480

… while the United States may have started the trend, the future of megachurches may lie in the rest of the world.

Based on data from the Hartford Institute for Religion Research and from the Christian nonprofit organization Leadership Network, WorldViews visualized this global and diverse movement. We used the most common definition of megachurches, which describes them as having “2,000 or more persons in attendance at weekly worship, a charismatic, authoritative senior minister, a 7 day a week community,” and other features which you can find in detail here.

Why global megachurches are bigger than U.S. megachurches

Despite American roots that reach back to the 19th century, megachurches abroad now have a higher average attendance, even though the vast majority of megachurches are still in the United States. While there are 230 to 500 such churches elsewhere in the world, the Hartford Institute estimates that there are about three times more megachurches in the United States.

In the United States, the median weekly attendance is about 2,750, while the median weekly in world megachurches is nearly 6,000. One factor that could explain the larger sizes on other continents is a lack of alternatives for believers.

“Outside the United States, it takes a large amount of charisma and capital to create a megachurch,” said Scott Thumma, director of the Hartford Institute. In the United States, however, competition among megachurches is fierce because it is easier to establish such communities. “It is harder to be massive here in U.S.,” Thumma added, citing zoning laws, safety inspections, construction and property costs.

Nevertheless, he believes that smaller megachurches do not lag behind in an international comparison. “I was just at four megachurches within a few miles of each other in Atlanta, and each of these cater to a slightly different audience,” Thumma said.

The differences between U.S. and global megachurches can even be noticed on satellite images. Abroad, megachurches are often constructed in the centers of cities, where they are accessed by foot, subway, bus or cab. In the United States, community members usually access the churches by car. To provide the necessary parking lots, U.S. megachurches are often in suburban areas.

compare-megachurches2.jpg&w=480

Read more at … https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2015/07/24/how-u-s-style-megachurches-are-taking-over-the-world-in-5-maps-and-charts/

MEGACHURCH & Demographics of the Typical Mega-congregation

by Morgan Lee, How 727 Megachurches Spend Their Money, Christianity Today, 11/12/14.

According to the 2014 edition of the Large Church Salary Report

  • the typical large American church (1,000 to 7,000 members)
  • was founded in 1977,
  • seats 800 worshipers,
  • and offers five weekly services at two campuses.
  • The church’s 52-year-old senior pastor was hired in 2005,
  • it employs 25 staff members,
  • and attendance has been recently growing 7 percent per year.

And check out the Leadership Network’s research on megachurches here …
http://leadnet.org/leadership-networkvanderbloemen-2014-large-church-salary-report/

MEGACHURCH & An Executive Summary of “Deep & Wide” by Andy Stanley

by Matt McCarrick (Missional Coach), 10/21/15, an Executive Summary of Deep & Wide by Andy Stanley.

This is the story of Northpoint Community Church in Alpharetta, Georgia, located twenty miles north of Atlanta. Founding pastor, Andy Stanley, shares the story of Northpoint Community Church and outlines the church’s ministry philosophy for other churches and leaders to evaluate and follow. Deep & Wide offers a balanced mix of narrative story, ministry philosophy, and practical advice for the local church.

For the first third of the book (Sections One and Two), Stanley shares the story and origins of Northpoint Community Church (Northpoint). Beginning in the days when he was a youth pastor for his well-known father, Charles, Stanley shares specific details of the situations and events that occurred leading to the founding of Northpoint. Surprising, Stanley (with the permission of his father), shares the story of his parents’ divorce that drove a temporary wedge between he and his father. Yet, God used this to begin Northpoint and bring healing to a wounded pastor.

Section Three of Deep & Wide is entitled “Going Deep.” In these chapters, Stanley outlines the approach Northpoint takes regarding spiritual formation. Northpoint seeks to engage with people in five distinct areas to promote spiritual formation: practical teaching, private disciplines, personal ministry, providential relationships, and pivotal circumstances. Over the next several chapters, Stanley outlines the philosophies of each of these areas and offers practical advice in sections titled, “Back at the Church.” Some suggestions include: a call to action at the end of every sermon, getting people involved in volunteer ministry quickly, and creating environments that foster meaningful relationships. One unique view of Northpoint is their closed Community Groups. Northpoint’s structure is to close a group to visitors once the group launches. The group then stays together for two years. Stanley believes this helps to increase the relationship building within the group structure as compared to open groups that change frequently.

Section Four is entitled “Going Wide” and discusses Northpoint’s ministry philosophy on outreach and evangelism. One key philosophy of Northpoint is to create “irresistible environments.” A key focus of Northpoint is reaching out to people that do not attend church. Stanley and Northpoint have adopted an attractional style of ministry. Northpoint evaluates the setting, the presentation, and the content being offered, in their words. Stanley firmly believes in practical preaching that offers Biblical teaching to believers and practical life advice to newcomers. Section Four ends with several templates Northpoint uses to create a service, including welcome, their approach to music, and preaching guidelines from Stanley.

Section Five is dedicated to taking the principles and philosophies Stanley outlined in the first four sections and making them practical for the local church to implement. Stanley focuses heavily on the differences between the Mission of the Church and models churches can use to reach the mission. He is open in the fact that Northpoint’s methods are just one method and discourages churches from blindly adopting their methods without due diligence. Stanley walks through a process from mission to vision to model to programming.

Deep & Wide was an interesting autobiographical case study of one of the largest churches in the country. While Northpoint has experienced tremendous success, it is difficult to connect with a church using the attractional method that runs in the tens of thousands each weekend. This sets an unrealistic goal for many churches, although it is clear Stanley is not trying to have churches match their size. Stanley offers practical advice on what can work in the local church in modern America. He is thoughtful and strategic. Therefore, Deep & Wide can be a valuable resource for church leaders who connect with Northpoint’s ministry philosophy.

LEARNING ORGANIZATIONS & It’s not the size of a megachurch that matters, but how quickly it learns.

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: Formerly it was how big you are. But for today’s organizations it is how fast you “learn.” See this Harvard Business Review article that reminds us it’s not the scalability of mega-churches, but rather the ability of organizations to learn and innovate as conditions change that make healthy organizations.

The New Organization Model: Learning at Scale

by John Hagel III, John Seely Brown and Lang Davison, MARCH 11, 2009.

In recent posts we’ve described a massive institutional transformation that will occur as part of the big shift: the move from institutions designed for scalable efficiency to institutions designed for scalable learning. The core questions we all need to address are: who will drive this transformation? Who will be the agents of change? Will it be institutional leaders from above or individuals from below and from the outside of our current institutions?

Used to be institutional leaders were the only ones who could change institutions. Why? Because, in an era of scalable efficiency, both work and consumption had to be standardized. It was impossible to get the necessary scale effects otherwise. Standardizing them required a top-down approach. Strong institutional leaders were necessary to mold individuals into two primary roles: customers that consumed products pushed to them on fixed schedules and employees who performed repetitive tasks from nine to five.

Now we have a new infrastructure, a digital infrastructure creating near-constant disruption. By freeing people to interact and collaborate with others outside of traditional hierarchical organizations, by reducing information asymmetries between producers of goods and services and those who buy them, by democratizing control over communications and media–in these and other ways our digital infrastructure is granting new autonomy and freedom to individuals, both as consumers and as employees. (For more about this see The Wealth of Networks by Yochai Benkler.) As a result, individuals wield new influence with and power over the institutions with which they interrelate.

Read more at … https://hbr.org/2009/03/can-your-company-scale-its-lea.html

MEGACHURCHES & 9 Fascinating Facts About People Who Attend Megachurches

by Warren Bird, LeadNet, 8/2/15.

…But what about the people who attend really big churches? Fellow researcher Scott Thumma and I surveyed some 25,000 of them, with some fascinating discoveries:

1. Nearly two-thirds of attenders have been at these churches 5 years or less.
2. Many attenders come from other churches, but nearly a quarter haven’t been in any church for a long time before coming to a megachurch.
3. New people almost always come to the megachurch because family, friends or coworkers invited them.
4. Fifty-five percent of megachurch attenders volunteer at the church in some way (a higher percentage than in smaller churches).
5. What first attracted attenders were the worship style, the senior pastor and the church’s reputation, in that order.
6. These same factors also influenced long-term attendance, as did the music/arts, social and community outreach, and adult-oriented programs.
7. Attenders report a considerable increase in their involvement in church, in their spiritual growth, and in their needs being met.
8. Attenders can craft unique, customized spiritual experiences through the multitude of ministry choices and diverse avenues for involvement that megachurches offer.
9. In many ways, large churches today are making good progress in reaching people and moving them from spectators to active participants to growing disciples of Jesus Christ.

For more interesting facts about people who attend megachurches, download the free report Not Who You Think They Are: The Real Story of People Who Attend America’s Megachurches.

Read more at … http://leadnet.org/9-fascinating-facts-about-people-who-attend-megachurches/

INNOVATION & These Churches Influence You More than You Realize! #LeadershipNetwork

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: Two of my research colleagues, Dr.s Elmer Towns and Warren Bird have just released an interview discussing innovative churches of the 20th Century and how they have impacted how we do ministry today. Dr. Towns has been a mentor to both myself and Warren, and I think you will glean historical insights from this interview.

Watch the video interview here … https://youtu.be/xnT8nha9v74

Read more at … http://leadnet.org/these-churches-influence-you-more-than-you-realize/

MEGACHURCHES & 9 Fascinating Facts About People Who Attend Megachurches

by Warren Bird, LeadNet, 8/2/15.

…But what about the people who attend really big churches? Fellow researcher Scott Thumma and I surveyed some 25,000 of them, with some fascinating discoveries:

  1. Nearly two-thirds of attenders have been at these churches 5 years or less.
  2. Many attenders come from other churches, but nearly a quarter haven’t been in any church for a long time before coming to a megachurch.
  3. New people almost always come to the megachurch because family, friends or coworkers invited them.
  4. Fifty-five percent of megachurch attenders volunteer at the church in some way (a higher percentage than in smaller churches).
  5. What first attracted attenders were the worship style, the senior pastor and the church’s reputation, in that order.
  6. These same factors also influenced long-term attendance, as did the music/arts, social and community outreach, and adult-oriented programs.
  7. Attenders report a considerable increase in their involvement in church, in their spiritual growth, and in their needs being met.
  8. Attenders can craft unique, customized spiritual experiences through the multitude of ministry choices and diverse avenues for involvement that megachurches offer.
  9. In many ways, large churches today are making good progress in reaching people and moving them from spectators to active participants to growing disciples of Jesus Christ.

For more interesting facts about people who attend megachurches, download the free report Not Who You Think They Are: The Real Story of People Who Attend America’s Megachurches.

Read more at … http://leadnet.org/9-fascinating-facts-about-people-who-attend-megachurches/

MEGACHURCHES & a chart that shows their pastors cover a wide range of ages

by Warren Bird, Leadership Network, 7/6/15.

…megachurch pastors cover a wide range of ages. I wrote a blog about the youngest megachurch pastors, and the chart below illustrates the range of ages of megachurch pastors.

MegachurchPastorAge

For other blogs in this series see here and here (scroll down to “FAQs about North American Churches”).

Read more at … http://leadnet.org/not-a-boomer-phenomenon-megachurches-draw-twice-as-many-under-45/

MEGACHURCHES & Research Shows Draw They Twice as Many Under 45

megachurch_1_infographicb

by Warren Bird, Leadership Network, 7/6/15.

“As the Baby Boomer generation (born 1946-1964) passes on, megachurches are also dying off.” I see statements like that often in the public media, but all the evidence says they’re just plain wrong, based on a major research project I did with Scott Thumma.

Instead, the larger the church the greater the percentage of young adults go there on average. We found and wrote in Not Who You Think They Are (free download) that the average age of megachurch respondents is 40 years old, similar to the U.S. Census average. Yet the average age of an attender in a typical “non-megachurch” congregation is nearly 53 years old. Nearly two-thirds (62%) of megachurch attenders are under 45 years old, while only a third are that young in other size churches (35%).

… In addition, nearly half the singles in megachurches have been at the churches 2 years or less, but 20% of them have attended six years or more. Interestingly, these single attenders were twice as likely to be living with other singles when compared to churches of other sizes (16% vs. 8%) but equal in percentage for those living alone (16% vs. 15%). This suggests that perhaps a large percentage of the megachurch singles are students, a perception confirmed in our visits to the megachurches. The visitors and newer people at the megachurches were even more likely to be youthful and single than were those to the average church. Almost 60% of single, never-married megachurch attenders are visitors or have been at the church 2 years or less, whereas for all churches 40% of never married people are visitors or are recent church attenders.

For other blogs in this series see here and here (scroll down to “FAQs about North American Churches”).

Read more at … http://leadnet.org/not-a-boomer-phenomenon-megachurches-draw-twice-as-many-under-45/

SMALL GROUPS & Why Do Small Groups Matter in Larger Churches? #WarrenBird #ScottThumma

By Warren Bird, 6/29/15.

Churches grow larger by getting smaller. That’s one of many findings in a survey of some 25,000 megachurch attenders that fellow researcher Scott Thumma and I conducted, writing Not Who You Think They Are (free download) to highlight our findings.

One of the key points: large churches are very intentional about helping people find their identity in some kind of group or team. Some 60% of attenders say they are involved in one or more groups (see graphic), a percentage that’s growing. In an earlier survey back in 2000, just half (50%) of the megachurches said small groups were central to their strategy for Christian nurture and spiritual formation. By 2008, that number had risen to a strong majority (84%) of megachurches affirming the centrality of a small group strategy.

What type of group draws the most participants? Religious education and spiritual growth groups attracted approximately a quarter of megachurch attenders, while service, recovery and fellowship type small groups accounted for no more than 10% to 20% of attenders.

spiritual-small-groups

Read more at … http://leadnet.org/do-small-groups-matter/

NEED MEETING & Find a Need and Fill It – The Erstwhile Motto of a Mega-Catastrophe

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel:  “While probably not the originator of the phrase “find a need and fill it,” this was the principle that built The Chrystal Cathedral (formerly Garden Grove Community Church) in its early stages before other (and less organic) building and media emphasizes became the foci. In his book, “Your Church Has A Fantastic Future” (1986) Robert Schuller tells of planting a church in Southern California on the principle of: “find a need and fill it.”  This attention to “need-meeting of non-churchgoers” grew the church.  One day their usual rented space was no longer available to them and they had to temporary use a outdoor movie theatre.  The media soon latched on to this emerging church seeming to play to the California image of automotive worship. Though fame and notoriety ensued, this interview with Robert Schuller shows he still credits “find a need and fill it” as the reason for the church’s growth (not the attractional lure that most people associate with it).  Read this interview to learn more.

Dr. Robert Schuller: A Legacy of ‘Power’

By Cheryl Wilcox and Michael Little
The 700 Club

CBN.com He is known all over the world as a possibility thinker. Robert Schuller was ordained in 1950 by the Reformed Church of America. In 1955 he headed west at the urging of his pastor and mentor Norman Vincent Peale. Schuller set his sights on California.

He preached his first Sunday service to 100 people all sitting in their cars. With only $500 to begin his ministry, Schuller rented out the Orange Drive-in Theater to have Sunday services. The location was affordable, available, and unconventional. It was perfect – church at a drive-in under the canopy of the California sun. Heaven smiled on their inauspicious beginning.

Fifty years later the sun is still shining on the believers worshipping at the Crystal Cathedral. The future holds great promise as the ministry team of Schuller and Schuller, father and son, work towards an eventual leadership transition.

Michael Little (CBN President): What is the key to your success?

Robert Schuller, Sr.: Anybody who succeeds is helping people. The secret to success is find a need and fill it; find a hurt and heal it; find a problem and solve it.

Little: What’s the hardest lesson you’ve had to learn in 50 years?

Schuller, Sr.: The hardest lesson is to continue to stay focused on the emotional needs of the non-believers…

Little: You’ve been the friend of many presidents of the United States along with heads of corporations? Has power been a temptation?

Schuller, Sr.: Oh no. Only if I need it to achieve my goal. Keep your eye on your goal and if you’re a Christian, as I am, then for God’s sake — literally, not profanely — you ask, ‘What is my calling?’ And then ‘What am I to do? What do I have to do?’ I want to build friendships. I want to come across as being a good illustration of what Jesus is like…

You can read more of this interview here by clicking:  http://www.cbn.com/700club/Guests/Interviews/Robert_Schuller050505.aspx

MEGACHURCHES & Elmer Town’s View of Healthy Large Churches via @DanReiland #12StoneChurch

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: “The thing that impressed me most about 12Stone© Church in Atlanta (a Wesleyan congregation) was that every Saturday night the pastors and leaders join together in the sanctuary to pray for the Sunday worship services.  Lead pastor Kevin Myers told me that this was something God impressed upon him.  Kevin said, and I’m paraphrasing from memory, ‘God said He would show up Sunday morning if I (Kevin) showed up Saturday night and prayed.’  The church has grown to a mega-congregation, but you can still feel what Elmer calls ‘the presence of God that impresses me. That warms my heart. That makes me trust the leaders.’  Another friend and 12Stone© leader, Dan Reiland, posted a great interview with Dr. Towns from which I gleaned this quote.  Here is the entire interview posted with permission from a great website (you should follow it): DanReiland.com.”

Wisdom from a Sage: Dr. Elmer Towns

by Dan Reiland, May 6, 2015, retrieved from http://danreiland.com/wisdom-from-a-sage-dr-elmer-towns

dan-reiland

What I consider a killer combination: Lunch last week at P.F. Changs with Dr. Elmer Towns!

Dr. Elmer Towns is the co-founder of Liberty University and the former Dean of the School of Theology and the Seminary for 32 years. Even at 82 years of age, Dr. Towns is fired up and going strong! He is one of the sharpest leaders I know. Dr. Towns has written 200 books and is working on 3 more right now. He travels the world speaking to thousands of church leaders. Dr. Towns is also writing curriculum for 12 new online courses that will be made available to thousands of Bible Schools internationally and in the US.

Let me slow down a bit. Elmer is a good friend. I love and appreciate him. He has more energy than most 40 year olds, and after all these years he just switched to a Mac! He also proudly showed me his new iPhone 6 Plus!

Elmer loves the local church and has invested in more leaders than most of us could ever imagine. Before his calling to the academic arena, Dr. Towns was a pastor starting at 19 years old in Savannah, GA, while in college.

I asked Dr. Towns what churches impressed him these days. He paused and said,

“Big churches don’t impress me.”

OK, I was hooked and asked him which ones do? He said,

“When I walk in the church and I immediately sense the presence of God that impresses me. That warms my heart. That makes me trust the leaders.”

Elmer said he can quickly sense the Holy Spirit or a “deadness” in the room. He called it the “atmospheric presence of God.”

Dr. Towns went on to say that the presence of God comes from worship, and the presence of God follows the man of God (The Pastor). The pastor is the intercessor that brings God to the people. (This was not meant to suggest that the people do not have direct access to God, but intended to reveal a Pastor’s heart as he or she prays for the people and delivers God’s Word.)

I asked what he would share with young next gen leaders stepping into ministry today. Dr. Towns said:

“Tell them not to focus on building a church but concentrate on feeding the people. If you lead and shepherd the people the church will grow.”

Last, I asked how to go the distance in ministry:

“First you must know why you’re doing what you are doing, then it must be a calling not a job. From there chase God, not success. Most people don’t know what to do with success. If you walk closely with God through Bible reading and prayer, when your church hits a rough patch, which they always do, you can weather the storm, and God will show you what to do next.”

FACILITIES & Building a New Church Auditorium, Research Suggests Millennials Prefer This Size

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: “Ever since Robin Dunbar’s research suggested that the optimum auditorium size for community events is around 150, there has been a push to establish church sanctuaries is in the 150 size range for optimum fellowship. Here is more research that suggests that Robin Dunbar is right. In this Barna survey different generations were asked which church sanctuary they preferred. The more intimate space of under 200 was preferred by the Millennials.”

Taking a friend to church? Keep this in mind …

by Michael F. Haverluck (OneNewsNow.com) Monday, December 01, 2014

Even though megachurches have been receiving all the attention over the past couple of decades, many of the preferences 18- to 29-year-olds have when conceptualizing the ideal church will come as a surprise to many pastors, current churchgoers and armchair Christians alike.

After taking a handful of Americans of various faiths from major U.S. cities on tours to suburban megachurches, urban cathedrals, coffee shops and city parks, researchers from the Barna Group and Cornerstone Knowledge Network were asked about their likes and dislikes regarding different facets of worship areas.

After showing the Millennial participants four different sanctuaries, one of the selections was the hands-down favorite, drawing more than twice as many votes of the entire group of 18- to 29-year-olds as any of the other three worship spaces.

Barna survey Sanctuary

“Sanctuary 2 was the ‘Goldilocks’ space for many respondents — not too big, not too small — just right,” Barna researches disclosed. “It’s big enough to retain some anonymity as a visitor — the marginally churched (63 percent) and those who are not practicing Christians (50 percent) preferred it more strongly than the average — but small enough to feel part of a community. Parents with children under 18 (50 percent) also preferred Sanctuary 2 more than average.”

The megachurch worship area (Sanctuary 1) received the lowest — just 18 percent of the overall vote — while Sanctuary 3, which is devoid of religious symbols or screens but smaller than the previous two, received 20 percent of the vote from the overall group (32 percent of those in the group coming from faiths other than Christianity chose this option). Sanctuary 4 is also a smaller, cozy space with religious imagery and a large screen. This setting only received 18 percent of the overall vote.

Read more at … http://www.onenewsnow.com/church/2014/12/01/taking-a-friend-to-church-keep-this-in-mind

MEGACHURCH & Index of Leadership Network’s Facts & Findings

Index of Megachurch Research, Leadership Network, 11/8/14.

Photo 6 megachurch page

Blogs with info:

– 9 Fascinating Facts about People Who Attend Megachurches

– Not A Boomer Phenomenon – Megachurches Draw Twice as Many Under 45

– Why Do Small Groups Matter in Large Churches?

– What Was The First Megachurch?

– How many megachurches are there in North America?

– Which North American megachurches have the largest sanctuaries?

– Who is the youngest North American megachurch pastor?

– Are all North American megachurches primarily English speaking?

– What are some good books about U.S. megachurches?

Selected Articles and Reports:

The Economic Outlook of Very Large Churches: Trends Driving the Budgets and Staffing Activities of North America’s Biggest Congregations

This report, published February, 2013, contains new research from our Fall 2012 Economic Outlook Survey, as well as previously unreleased information from our 2012 Salary Survey.

photo 4 magechurch page

Not Who You Think They Are: The Real Story of People Who Attend America’s Megachurches

By Scott Thumma and Warren Bird

The National Survey of Megachurch Attenders drew 24,900 responses from 12 carefully selected megachurches across the U.S. Conducted January to August 2008, it is the largest national representative study of megachurch attendees conducted by any researchers to date. This report summarizes the initial learnings from the study.

photo 2 megachurch page

Read more at … http://leadnet.org/megachurch/