Just got back from San Jose, California after doing the CCN broadcast on Multiplying Ministry. Great topic! The whole experience was pretty cool – getting to meet George Barna who was the host; and doing the show with Neil Cole and Larry Osborne. Good guys! Barna said there was between 10,000 and 15,000 leaders watching the show live. He is a pollster, but I’m still having a hard time believing that many people tuned in.
However, the highlight was going out to dinner the night before with Neil and Larry at Alexanders Steak House. The food was awesome! Their website is the most delicious website I’ve ever seen!
In addition to the good food was the great conversation! I took the opportunity to ask Neil some questions since he has pioneered a movement of house churches that now number over 800 and 10,000 participants and literally wrote the book on the Organic Church. Neil has been openly critical of the mega church. His criticisms come because he does not see it as reproducible and as a way to create a movement. Since we technically fall into the category of a mega church I wanted to know what he would like to see change with most mega churches. Here are a couple of my questions and his answers (paraphrased).
Dave: If you had a magic wand and could change one thing about the mega church in North America what would you change?
Neil: I would want to change the dysfunctional relationship between church and Pastor. The church is the dependent and Pastor is the co-dependent. The church depends on the Pastor (paid staff) to do too many things they need to be doing for themselves (serving, shepherding, teaching, evangelism, etc.). And when the pastor enables the church by doing these things he gets praised from the church and that is how the cycle of dependency continues. That is the one thing that I would change immediately.
Dave: So, if you were a mega church pastor what you do first?
Neil: I would teach people how to hear from God. They are too pastor-dependent. If every person who is a Christ Follower was hearing from God then we would see a movement.
I think he is right about some mega churches having dysfunctional relationships with their pastor. However, I don’t think that is unique to large churches. (I think Neil would agree with me.) Churches of all sizes have this issue. In fact, smaller churches may struggle with this even more and that may be why they continue to be small. And he is absolutely right about hearing from God being the beginning point. That is so simple and obvious, but so right on! I love his stuff. He talks about the reproducing church unlike anyone else; and he is getting it done! I’m not completely on board with all his application, because it’s all about the house church. But he asks all the right questions. Good food and great conversation.