East Of Eden

"A curious mix of the relevant and reverential"

East of Eden

Are megachurches going the way of CDs?

250750 4285439580579 411117748 nOutside my dad's church.



As in an unappealing and outdated relic of the latter part of the twentieth century? Maybe. I know I never felt comfortable in them anyway. I don't need stadium seating where I worship, thanks. From Thom Rainer:


Is it then fair to suggest any relationship between the decline of the malls and the future of the church buildings? I think so. To be sure, most malls are adversely affected by the growth of online shopping. There are not too many brick and mortar stores that don’t feel the impact of the Internet.


But there is more to the decline of the malls than the rise of the digital world. The Boomer generation has been the generation of bigness and sprawl. Their parents, in the aftermath of World War II, moved numbers of them to the new and massive suburbia. Large malls would soon follow. Most large megachurch buildings were constructed primarily for the favor of the Boomers.


But the children of the Boomers, Generation X and, even more, the Millennials, have been pushing for more intimacy and smallness. They triggered the unprecedented growth of Starbucks. They have been the key movers in social media, which has fostered a new online intimacy.

Among the Christian Millennials there is a desire for greater intimacy in church. They are in many ways triggering a new small group revolution. And though they may not have an explicit aversion to large church facilities, neither are they attracted to them.


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In the church garden.


I actually do have an explicit aversion to large church facilities. I'm not talking about 500 seaters. They're alright. No, I cringe at the 5,000 seat types. Like I'm fine to visit, but on the regular? Ahhh, no.


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 My sis-in-law Jenny strolling through the garden, heels and all.



A Boomer church leader looks at a small building and limited acreage and sees challenges. He sees the limitations of size and space. A Millennial leader looks at the same building and acreage and sees opportunity. He immediately thinks multiple venues, multiple services, and multiple days.


I see this type of thought in my own family. My dad pastors a small congregation. Their building is an equally small little chapel. It sits on a nice plot of land, large enough for my nephews to dash out and run around in once services have ended. It's large enough that last summer, Joe and his wife Jenny planted a sweet garden full of tomatoes, corn and sunflowers. My dad looks at the land and thinks, "Room to knock down walls and build classrooms." Joe looks at it and thinks, "We can really reach out to the community through gardening, barbeques and basketball games." Totally different mindsets. But then, Dad is 61. Joe is 34.


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Joe in the garden.


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