MegaChange: 10 Trends Reshaping the American Megachurch

6. Leveraging Church Resources for Social Transformation

Today, many megachurch pastors are discovering the power of helping hundreds as their churches put systems in place to help create social transformation. One example is the Los Angeles Dream Center, affiliated with Angelus Temple and led by Matthew Barnett.

The L.A. Dream Center is housed in the abandoned 15-story, 400,000-square-foot Queen of Angels Hospital building. There are currently over 850 residents living in the facility, people with various life needs and of those who minister to them.

“God is raising up a younger generation of churches that recognize that Sunday is not the destination point,” Barnett says. “It is the launching point to get the church mobilized Monday through Friday.

“Pastors used to believe that what they really needed to succeed was a bigger building than other churches. Now they are rediscovering what a shallow view this was and that the real ministry is among the needs of the people of their communities.”

The Dream Center strategy of holistic ministry has been replicated across the country many times over. Some 7,000 leaders each year come to the Dream Center in L.A. to observe, volunteer and learn. As a result, there are now 200 Dream Centers across the country.

“We are finding out just how simple it can be to live out the gospel,” Barnett says. “We are moving from social justice to social transformation. Social justice is awareness; social transformation is doing something about it.”

7. The Quest for Better Metrics

“We are so over counting ‘nickels and noses,’” says Northland’s Joel Hunter. “Church attendance and finances tell little of how many in the congregation are actually living as disciples and making other disciples on a weekly basis. We are coming up with better surveys like: How many of us belong to a spiritual small group? How many of us have a ministry or area of service for Christ? How many of us have brought someone else to Jesus?”

New technologies are making it easier to examine spiritual fruit in the lives of believers. They are revising how churches lead and serve their members and how they evaluate their level of effectiveness—no longer just from year to year, but from day to day.

“The win is being redefined,” says Ben Cachiaras, pastor of Mountain Christian Church in Joppa, Md. “Attendance, buildings and cash are still worth counting, but now you hear churches getting excited about the changes they feel called to make in their community, as neighborhoods and cities are transformed by the gospel. …These are new metrics.”

8. The Big Church Search for Small Church Intimacy

One of the myths about megachurches is that they are generally distant, aloof, political and impersonal. This is usually true only for those who loosely affiliate with the church, slipping in and out of worship services.

Still, for a big church to become truly strong, it needs to develop lots of smaller “churches” within it, which is why 82 percent say small groups are now essential to their spiritual formation strategies. And many are restructuring to create smaller church experiences within the context of large. This is the case at National Community Church in Washington, D.C. This megachurch, pastored by best-selling author Mark Batterson, consists of six multisite congregations that average about 350 attendees per worship service.

Stewardship of facilities is becoming more desirous, while large buildings occupied for only a few hours a week are becoming old school. This means more churches are becoming multisite. In fact, half of all megachurches today are multisite, and another 20 percent are considering it. Multisite megachurches have also grown faster than single-site megachurches over the past five years.

Robert Crosby

Robert Crosby is the co-founder of Teaming Life Conferences and Resources. He trains and consults pastors in creating teaming cultures. Crosby pastored churches in Upstate New York and Boston and conducts Teaming Church and Teaming Family conferences. He is the author of The Teaming Church: Ministry in the Age of Collaboration (Abingdon Press) and is a professor of practical theology at Southeastern University (Lakeland, Fla.). His next book, The One Jesus Loves, releases in March 2014 (Nelson Books). Contact him at