What Big Churches Can’t Teach

Andy Stanley

Andy Stanley said in a recent podcast that churches should NOT do what North Point is doing. His point was that North Point has not always done what it’s doing now. They have done different things at different stages in their development to get to where they are at now.

If you are a small church you can’t do big church things and expect the same results.

Tony Morgan says,

If you need advice, first ask the question who has walked through this same situation and come out the other side in a healthy position?

Right now Chase Valley has an enormous leadership opportunity. We are walking through a struggle that many other churches face. They need an example to follow. North Point isn’t facing it. New Spring isn’t facing it. Willow Creek isn’t facing it. But we are.

Are we going to face this opportunity with integrity and set a Christian leadership example?

Will we be open, honest and transparent enough about the process to let others see what we’re doing?

Another great leader once said,

Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.

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12 Responses to “What Big Churches Can’t Teach”


  1. 1 hitchface August 29, 2008 at 12:50 pm

    I pray that you folks will be lead through this time by a shining example. Good post.

  2. 2 Ben August 29, 2008 at 12:52 pm

    Listened to this same podcast while mowing Monday…great points Billy. I thought the same thing. It’s easy for a younger/smaller church to desire the same fruit of a Northpoint…it just isn’t realistic. Looking at a Northpoint and learning about their failures and successes during the same growth stages is good…but don’t expect the same results.

    Great post! Prayed for you and the body at Chase Valley.

  3. 4 Russ August 29, 2008 at 1:56 pm

    Good stuff, Billy.

    I think a lot of times we get mesmerized by the success of another group and we want to transfer any and every principle they’re using to try and achieve the same results…which usually doesn’t end up working.

    Example? Christian Hair Metal

  4. 5 Mike August 29, 2008 at 2:25 pm

    I’d agree with you, conditionally, Billy.

    While I agree that small churches like ours cannot operate like larger churches, there is something to be said for “thinking” like a big church. There are certain considerations – an almost all of them are operational, not ministerial – that have to be though out.

    For instance, your processes. How do you handle visitors and potential new members? Evangelicals (and we’r as guilty as anyone) are great at getting them in and lousy at getting them plugged in. Is there a process? There should be, and it should work the same for one new person a month or one hundred.

    Finances are the same. You financial models should be modeled on larger churches. Not the dollars, obviously, but the budget processes, the disbursement and approval procedures, etc…

    The problem with NOT thinking large is that when the growth does come, you may not be ready for it.

  5. 6 Billy Chia August 29, 2008 at 3:40 pm

    Mike,
    Yes – you have totally nailed it! Scalable processes are SO important. Asking, “Is this duplicatable?” and “Will this work in the future?” are so vital to finding long-term solutions.

    I totally agree with you bro.

    I also think those of us in the small church world have a lot to offer. (sometimes more than the large church world.) We short change ourselves when we think our leadership doesn’t matter simply because there’s only 100 people walking in the door.

    Jesus said even the guy with only 1 talent is accountable for it.

  6. 7 Scott Fillmer August 29, 2008 at 8:20 pm

    Great post, I think there are many churches that think they can just pop out of some small church thing into this big church picture and I don’t think that works… do it right and it takes time, and maturity.

  7. 8 Rich Kirkpatrick August 30, 2008 at 11:10 am

    These indeed are good thoughts. The reality about BIG churches is that we really only know about the ones that have fancy authors or edgy ministries. The reality is that there are many churches that are big that do things many different ways–from pipe organs to rockstar-laden bands. If you want to learn from large churches, I bet you can find one that is NOT Northpoint but more like what your church is like in values and makeup, etc. For instance, smaller city verses big city?

    My point is you can learn, but not as much from ones that you will never be like or want to be like. It’s like starting a software company and looking at a media giant as your goal.

  8. 9 janowen August 31, 2008 at 7:41 pm

    Billy, it is very important for us all to stay very aware and cognitive of the work of God in each of our churches and in our lives. We all have a story to tell, a testimony if you will, of God’s grace in our life. Sometimes we tend to think that only those with HUGE ministries can teach or share. I think we all have something to offer one another. Having walked through a very difficult season of ministry and personal burnout has made me realize I (and my church) actually may have something to offer to others right where we are – no total solution wrapped up in a pretty bow, but some real life lessons others could take home with them or at least some food for thought.

    You’ve heard a part of my story, so you know where we come from. I was discussing my heart for sabbatical and healthy staff policies as well as the encouragement to those in ministry to seek God for God’s sake alone with a prominent pastor the other day. He said “I don’t need all that now” and I cringed. Even though he leads a church of several thousand people, I actually have something to share with him that he could learn from if he was open.

    The same is true for your church. Your struggles are ones that others can relate to. I believe God will allow you to minister to and share with others as you learn from Him in this time.

  9. 10 jordan September 1, 2008 at 7:46 am

    Amen. And it goes for implementation as well as strategy.

    I remember being at the Fellowship Church’s creative worship conference year’s ago and in a question and answer time, this guy from a little church plant asked how they had done a certain effect on a special. The guy from Fellowship said, “It’s easy…you just get this light…and this scrim….”

    The planter asked, “Where do I get a light like that…”

    Fellowship guy, “Oh at X store, they’re only like $10grand.

    The planter, “Dude that’s my whole churches budget…”

    Live in your context and see what God grows up through the soil under your own floor…be original..adapt tool? yes, but don’t hijack models. AMEN.

  10. 11 janowen September 1, 2008 at 10:11 am

    @jordan – I was probably at the same church conference – in Atlanta. I sat and actually CRIED because we were doing a Sat service and two on Sundays and I simply didn’t have enough band members to do this. I was caught between my pastors expectations and the stress it was putting my team under. I’d tried every different configuration under the sun and our church of 600 people simply didn’t have the people to continue to do this (we were in our 3rd year of this too). I heard a guy ask “How do you get enough musicians for your services?” and they said “We pay our musicians.” I sat and cried because I had so hoped someone would give me some help on this and obviously I could not pay musicians. Great example of what works for one church at a larger size not working for those of us that are smaller. Nice idea but it won’t work for me.

  11. 12 willyang September 4, 2008 at 10:00 pm

    great post. each church community is unique. while big churches can give some sort of vantage point for what ministry could be, it mustn’t be what it should be.


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