Will Churches Get Bigger or Smaller?
Bigger churches will follow the megachurch model and find ways to succeed by big-church standards. Large churches with large budgets will continue to connect their people to their programming and systems. Megachurches, at some level, will continue to reach people. Their formula keeps working or can be adapted to work. So, mega- and giga-churches such as Life.Church and Saddleback are not going anywhere.
Not everyone will be reached by a megachurch.
However, not everyone will be reached by a megachurch. We already see that smaller churches dominate across our country. In 2021, Lifeway Research reported that the average church size in the United States is 65 people. For many serving in the large church space, this is laughable.
Yet we should consider what a small church can do that a big church cannot. Small churches can be better suited for relational discipleship, pastoral care, and deep personal relationships. Do we recognize the advantages a small—and, similarly, a decentralized–church?
Advantages and Challenges of Large and Small Churches
To be fair, you can argue for and against the value of one church with a million people compared to 100,000 churches with only 10 people each. The super large church has more resources, but may struggle with managing an organization of that size. The smaller church does not have these resources and may always feel restricted.
We should consider what a small church can do.
The former becomes overwhelmed with caring for staff, while the latter needs more staff. One can accommodate large numbers of people, while the other can have deep relationships with each one. One has power and influence, while the other can quickly adapt and change. One is trying to reach everyone, while the other can target a small group.
Will Churches Become Decentralized?
Modern shifts in technology and culture are generating discussions about decentralization, networks, and trust. For example, blockchain and cryptocurrencies exist because culture does not trust governments and large organizations. They are a technological foundation of cultural decentralization that empowers individuals to create agreements with other individuals. The majority of the metaverse will continue to push people not toward centralization but decentralization.
How will this decentralization movement affect the future of both large and small churches? Will churches evolve to become like decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs) where decision-making, management, and ownership are distributed among individuals? And most importantly, could such a change enable us to reach more and different people?
The metaverse will continue to push people not toward centralization but decentralization.
In June 2000, Jeff led his first online Bible study, taking 75 people from around the world through the book of James using a text-based system called Ultimate BB. He was doing digital ministry way before it was cool. Founding THECHURCH.DIGITAL in 2018, Jeff’s passions have evolved into helping churches (and individuals, too!) find their calling through digital discipleship, releasing people on digital mission, and planting multiplying digital churches. This pursuit will expand as Jeff (and others) create the DigitalChurch.Network, an organic, decentralized network for digital expressions of church globally. Jeff also serves as the director of Metaverse Church NEXT for Leadership Network and works closely with Exponential and other globally facing, multiplication-friendly, gospel-centric organizations. Jeff married his high school sweetheart, Amy, and has two kids and a dog. They live in Miami, Florida.