Church Growth

“Whatever it takes”: My Summer at Minnesota’s Gigachurch

Yes, Minnesota has a gigachurch. The baffled reaction of most hearers notwithstanding, it’s true.

For the unconversant, a “gigachurch” is one with average weekly attendance of at least 10,000. The United States has about fifty in total; about half of the states have none. Churches that reach this size frequently have wide-ranging reputations, with many people near and far at least cognizant of the church’s existence. In contrast, mentioning Minnesota’s gigachurch often triggers perplexed looks even from long-time Minnesotans. Yet this church is perhaps America’s 12th largest, with average weekly attendance currently twice the gigachurch threshold.

Over this past summer I became drawn to discover who this inconspicuous colossus is. And so a fascinating journey began.

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10 Keys for Church Growth

It is amazing how feverishly we sometimes pursue things that aren’t real. Imagine a church growth conference for pastors in which there is more attention given to a Stanford economist than to the words of the Bible (really happened). Imagine a book outlining keys to an effective church—a book that attends more to the importance of a well laid out parking lot than to the importance of God’s word (really happened). Imagine a generation of pastors being trained to believe they are CEO’s—they are the next Steve Jobs, and are the ones to creatively lead their congregations to prosperity and influence (happens every day).

We speak of vision and creativity, of relevance and sincerity, all the while copying corporate models for monopoly. We speak of redemption and grace, of love and fellowship, all the while hacking our way to greater market share. We are careening at light speed in completely the wrong direction. It is no wonder we have little that is real to show for our efforts. But if these techniques aren’t the ideals for church growth, then what are?

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