Missional Megachurch?

I've spent a fair bit of time (on this blog and elsewhere) reflecting on the concept of the missional church. A common theme in the discussion is contextualized ministry - engaging the specific needs and issues of a particular place. As a result of contextualized ministry, there is great diversity in what being missional looks like. House churches, church plants, multi-site campuses, traditional, liturgical, denominational, and nondenominational can all be successful contexts for missional identity. It’s the missional paradigm that counts, whatever the context.

Yet quite often in the missional discussion, megachurches (weekly attendance of over 2000) are left out. In fact, megachurches can easily become the prime examples for everything missional churches are not. It's assumed that all megachurches emphasize only attractional outreach (programs inviting people to the church building) and operate largely to sustain themselves as an organization. Stereotypes abound. Unfortunately, such stereotypes can fail to notice megachurches that do work towards adopting the missional paradigm.

This week I took my class for a tour of Northview Community Church (Abbotsford, BC). While there is no shortage of common megachurch characteristics (e.g. dynamic preaching ministry, excellent children's programs, and a state-of-the-art facility), being a megachurch doesn't disqualify them from being missional. It's quite the opposite. Are there still challenges to being missional and a megachurch? No doubt! But for Northview, embedded in the general megachurch ministries is a deep engagement with contextualized ministry. For example:
  • They acknowledge the challenges of their location at the edge of town, focusing on relational connection into congregants' neighborhoods.
  • They have a ministry for families with special needs children which allows families to engage in worship together as a family (as opposed to one parent staying home).
  • They have an open-concept office space where everyone shares the same space (including the lead pastor) as a way to symbolize their unity and maximize collaboration across departments and roles.
  • They partner with several organizations in Abbotsford to help meet needs of the community.
  • They are exploring ways to serve the community with their property.
  • Their primary evangelism strategy is relational, where all people in the church are encouraged and equipped to share Jesus within their spheres of influence.
There are still challenges to being a missional megachurch. But there are challenges towards being missional for all forms of church, from house church to megachurch. But as Northview illustrates, challenges shouldn't disqualify any one form from the missional discussion.

Related: "The Missional Megachurch" by Ed Stetzer


Blake Lawyer said...

You've articulated this issue really well here. Thanks for digging beneath the surface of stereotypes to really show the unity that can exist between missional and mega. Let's GO together and see more people changed by the Gospel!

David Warkentin said...

Thanks Blake. And thanks for stopping by!

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