Wouldn’t you love to work at a megachurch?
Imagine being called upon to lend your influence to a church where hundreds and even thousands could benefit from you on a weekly basis. Doesn’t that sound like a place you want to end up?
My first full-time ministry position out of college was as a middle school pastor in a church of about 3500. Over the course of 3 years, I served in a number of roles within that student ministry until God prompted me to resign my position for entirely healthy reasons.
Looking back on my experience, I consider it a solid first three years to begin my life of vocational ministry. However, there were some things about working in a megachurch that were less than ideal and even frustrating.
Many young church leaders have a dream of one day working at a megachurch. While there’s nothing inherently wrong with this, our heart having such a desire is often motivated by ego and an overactive importance of self. This has lead me to take a closer look at the allure of the megachurch.
Here are 4 good realities and 4 less-than-good realities of my experience working for a megachurch.
1. You get to rub shoulders with some highly effective leaders
Those who serve megachurches have a role in directing the spiritual lives of hundreds of people. Jesus said, “If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones. But if you are dishonest in little things, you won’t be honest with greater responsibilities.” (Luke 16:10)
Megachurches are full of the leaders who have proved their faithfulness to what Jesus prepared for them, which means you get to learn practical dos and do nots from people who have a lot of wisdom and faith lessons to offer you. It’s like going to leadership school every day.
2. There is always something exciting happening
When a church has thousands of people, you’re going to hear many stories of life change and Jesus being victorious over the influence of sin in peoples’ lives. Even if your department is in a bit of a “slump”, there will be something awesome or interesting going on elsewhere that you can find to celebrate and be excited over.
3. You have a large, vibrant community to do life with
The church I worked at had a staff of between 40-50 people. People of all ages, gifts, and perspectives who also love Jesus is a great environment to work in. You feel like you’re a part of a huge, wonderful family.
4. The resources
Usually megachurches can afford to provide innovative or exciting experiences or teaching moments on a pretty regular basis. Both financial and other types of resources make working at a megachurch interesting, unpredictable and fresh.
1. It’s easier to rely on your own strength
With plenty of space, technology, and seemingly unlimited resources, it is very easy to feel like you don’t need to rely on the Holy Spirit. When things are going well, it is easy to give you and your team all the credit for success. Whether it is an event that really came together or a creative, expensive object lesson that went better than expected, working in a megachurch can make it easier to forget the Holy Spirit.
2. There can be a heightened pressure to “perform”
When a church has been built to a certain size, there can be a pressure to not only sustain it but also to make it bigger and better. After all, you need to keep “feeding the beast,” right? With such a mindset comes stress and anxiety and the pressure to be at the top of your game at all times—or else.
3. There is often lower job security
You’re just not guaranteed the same level of job security once churches get past a certain size. This isn’t to say that ministers at megachurches are walking on eggshells just waiting for the axe to drop.
It’s just that at a certain level your job performance affects so many others in the same organization that any problems that go unresolved have negative impact on other staff. Also, since there is such an allure to work at a megachurch, it wouldn’t take long to fill your position should you choose to leave or if you are let go.
4. You may have discomfort with the marriage between business and spirituality
The larger a church gets, the greater the need for administrative and organizational systems to be put in place. The larger the staff, the greater the need for human resources-type duties. Also, there are greater amounts of funds and resources to be managed responsibly. You even might start to hear words like “demographic” “marketing” and “brand.”
I have heard many criticize megachurches for having a corporate feel to them. Are some churches too corporate? Probably. However, megachurches will have a corporate feel to them at some level strictly by necessity.
Remember, the grass isn’t always greener and bigger isn’t always better. I currently serve in a church of 400 and I love it. That being said, if God ever called me to a megachurch again, I would happily go.