Reflections on the American Megachurch and the Obligations of Leadership

Collected wisdom from Andy Stanley, Craig Groeschel, Rick Warren, Miles McPherson and others

“We’re just starting. We call ourselves a micro church with a mega vision.”


I can look out my window right now and see tons of people who don’t know Christ, so I’m not going to pat myself on the back for a minute and say, “Aren’t we great because we have X-number of people coming?” The mission is too big to celebrate and imagine that we’ve done a great thing when there is such a greater work still to be done. We try to keep a “we haven’t done anything yet” mindset. We’re just starting. We call ourselves a micro church with a mega vision.

The vision is not to change the world alone; it’s to unite the body of Christ to be the body of Christ. Through unity and kingdom partnerships, we actually think we can make a difference. … We have tremendous relationships with churches nearby, and it’s the greatest thing ever! … We also have agreed to not do a local mission experience without bringing along another local church. We’re inviting others to go serve the city with us, and the benefit of those relationships is just huge! All of this has created a culture in our city that results in more kingdom partnerships than kingdom competition.

As a pastor, I know it can be tough to be vulnerable. But I believe we must do whatever it takes to keep the spiritual fires burning. In our culture today, we often preach “Come to God, and he’ll fix you.” But when I read Scripture, it’s more like, “Come to him, and he’ll ruin you (in the best sort of way).” When Isaiah saw the Lord in the temple, he said, “Woe to me, I’m ruined.” That experience squashed him flat, squeezed out all his pride, emptied him of self-ambition. And then three verses later, when God asked who can I send, Isaiah said, “Here I am; send me.”

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“If it’s a biblical principle, it’s transcultural, and it lasts forever.”


The biggest mistake we make is assuming that our view of the world is the entire view of the world. Here in Southern California, I could show you 150 different cultures, and the church has to be cognizant of that. It takes all kinds of churches to reach all kinds of people. I was saying that 30 years ago. There’s more than one way to grow a church. In fact, I can show you churches doing the exact opposite things and they’re both growing.

Irrelevance comes when the speed of change in a church is slower than the speed of change in culture. Things are constantly changing. What doesn’t change, of course, is the truth. Jude calls it “the faith once delivered for the saints.” It’s always there. If it was true 10,000 years ago, it will be true 10,000 years from today. Truth doesn’t change, but how we say it does.

If it’s a biblical principle, it’s transcultural, and it lasts forever.

There are principles of the Purpose Driven Church that are still relevant today. There are methods I used 20 years ago that aren’t relevant today.

Now in terms of the message, the only way to be constantly relevant is to be eternal. Only that which is eternal is always relevant.

We’re constantly on the lookout for new ideas. How can we preserve and nurture a learning attitude? We don’t know it all, and we’re willing to learn from anybody. We learn from churches smaller than us, and we learn from churches larger than us. We learn from churches that are different from us. We learn from churches that disagree with us. Shoot, I learn from my critics. I learn from my enemies, which makes me smarter than my enemies, because I know what I know, and I try to learn what they know. You can learn from anybody if you know the right questions. And it’s all about humility, admitting I don’t have it all together.