With this kind of expansion, I think it’s wise to discuss what I believe is the right way for we laypeople (i.e.: the membership, volunteers or non-accredited ministers in a given church) to view such sprawling plans, as it is often with much trepidation that current generations of church-goers don’t always view “mega-churches” in the correct light.
I’ll also say that this isn’t about getting 100% agreement from any given church aficionado that they should belong to a large church; rather, that large churches are not just OK, but sometimes have the ministerial resources that smaller churches don’t have.
Let’s begin by defining what we’re actually talking about here. In the case of 12Stone church, it would generally be considered a multi-site church in which high-definition sermon content is live-streamed to four geographically dispersed (and online) campuses (having been on the church’s tech team for 4 years and now serving as a camera director at Central campus, I can attest to the dazzling array of both technology and volunteers we’ve been blessed to leverage).
For Bible studies, 12Stone invokes the cell group (i.e.: small group) concept. To date, we’ve successfully managed to see many such physical groups form and continue with a curriculum of instruction, as well as at least one virtual group begin to thrive.
When taking a look at 12Stone’s site, some might think that we are very “seeker-sensitive” in approach. In my opinion, however, 12Stone doesn’t exist to go out to the community and allow the community to determine the theological approach that the church will use (pastor/theologian John MacArthur presents what can be a very negative aspect of this approach when not including sound doctrine). Quite the contrary.
Many people may not realize that 12Stone is actually a member of the Wesleyan denomination (specifically, the South Coastal District). It is therefore an elder-governed, staff-led church that is highly dynamic in presentational approach yet quite conservative and evangelical in sermon messaging.
Therefore, how is 12Stone bucking a number of trends that essentially say that you can’t grow a big church without losing your head theologically? Our senior pastor, Kevin Myers (a.k.a.: “PK”), spelled out exactly where we are now going during the Wesleyan General Conference in 2012. This has culminated today in the Maxwell Leadership Center that is directly adjacent to 12Stone’s Sugarloaf Campus where resources are used for generating competent leaders and pastors of all willing denominations.
Perhaps the only remaining response over whether or not sizeable churches are “too big” is actually whether or not you’re comfortable with congregating with believers from over the centuries once Jesus returns. That should be one big party!
12Stone is an amazing example of what it means to be churched by leaders in the 21st century and, what’s more, demonstrating easily repeatable examples of how the entire membership can lead the community with a heart for Christ. And I’m personally very excited to see how the growth through to nine campuses — and beyond — will help to positively impact the community of northeastern Georgia.