How then do large churches grow?

I. How then do large churches grow?

Carl George: In most cases, however, once a church passes four hundred, it tends to become a receptor church, with a high percentage of its newcomers being drawn from other smaller churches in the community. In other words, between 75 percent and 90 percent of the new members in the typical church of four hundred or more are transfers, not converts. There exists a widespread notion that North America’s medium and large size churches are evangelistic centers. This view is in most cases, regrettably only a myth. Instead, these churches are by and large centers for reprocessing believers, new and old alike, that throng to them from smaller churches.

            This situation leads to one of the largest spiritual dilemmas of our time: The bigger a church becomes, the less evangelistically responsible it needs to be in order to grow. As a church grows, it inherits the other churches’ evangelism efforts. Regrettably, very few churches larger than four hundred do their own soul winning or primary spiritual formation. Rather, they simply reap the benefits of other churches’ perceived failures.[1]

            This is not church growth, but the accelerated decline of other churches to the benefit of the receptor church. The vast majority of the members of megachurches are converted elsewhere but come to the megachurch for its excitement, varied program activities and its perceived quality of discipleship teaching.[2]





[1] The quote is a selection from David O. Kueker’s Fuller Seminary Doctor of Ministry project submitted in September, 2007, entitled Diagnosis, Dialogue, and Decision: A Threefold Process of Revitalization For the Illinois Great Rivers Conference.
It is shared here in recognition of its 12th Anniversary along with comments to update and provide perspective on the material. The original project was a Training Manual/Study Guide of three Seminars supported by three chapters of research and an Introduction. The material is available for download at In 2009 it was provided for purchase as a softcover book entitled Designing Discipleship Systems: Christian Disciple Making For Any Size Church, Any Theology through

[2][3] [4][5] [6][7] [8]

All Scripture quotations are from the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright © 1946, 1952, and 1971 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Please review the page How and Why We Use Quotes.

[1]Carl F. George, The Coming Church Revolution: Empowering Leaders for the Future (Grand Rapids: Fleming H. Revell, 1994), 37-38.

[2]Cf. Carl F. George,“New Realities for the 21st Century Church,” The Pastor’s Update 94, tape 7033 (Pasadena, CA: Fuller Theological Seminary, 2001).

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