Tag Archives: reknew.org

Greg Boyd on Anabaptist Mega-Churches

Yesterday over at ReKnew.org, Greg Boyd responded to a common objection. Can you have an Anabaptist mega-church?

Some may claim that a church can espouse an “Anabaptist” theology (or partially), but if they are large enough to be considered a “mega” church they can’t really be an Anabaptist congregation.

I’ve heard this skepticism before. In fact, I have personally discussed this objection with Greg, since Woodland Hills Church has evolved into an Anabaptist congregation, and because I entered the Mennonite USA back in June of this year to pastor an Anabaptist church in Virginia.

Here’s an excerpt of what Greg had to say in his post:

Ironically, those who argue mega-churches can’t be Anabaptist churches are assuming, in the process of raising this objection, a non-Anabaptist definition of church as a weekend gathering. If the leadership of Woodland Hills thought that our “mega” weekend gathering was “the church,” the objection would indeed be valid. But we don’t think this, precisely because this would be a very non-Anabaptist position to assume!

I was encouraged to read Greg’s response because it reflects my own thoughts, and my personal experience as well.

After leaving vocational ministry within the SBC in 2006, and meeting in “organic” house churches for five years, I became very critical of organized churches, especially mega-churches. And for good reason. Mega churches have a tendency to base their success on attendance in their corporate gatherings, and have little to no concern for real community.

Meeting in homes for several years, deconstructing and reconstructing my understanding of the church, was necessary for me to see the benefits of face-to-face community, as well as the larger “mega” gatherings.

It was during that time that I was becoming an Anabaptist. And I deeply resonated with this concern that Anabaptists have for community and keeping it simple. Historically, they’ve done it better than most.

Anabaptist theology and practice rightfully recognizes that face-to-face community is essential in being the Body of Christ in any given location. So, there is a legitimate concern that community might be lost if a church grows beyond a certain point. Some would say it will be lost.

But is this necessarily so?

Again, listen to Greg’s response:

What Woodland Hills Church (as well as and the Meeting House in Toronto and other mega-Anabaptist Churches that may be out there) demonstrates is that we don’t have to chose between embracing the church as community, on the one hand, and holding a large weekend gathering, on the other. There’s nothing intrinsically anti-kingdom about large gatherings. After all, large crowds flocked to Jesus, and the early Christians in Jerusalem met in large groups in “Solomon’s porch” (Acts 5:16-19). The key, however, is to always remind people that the primary expression of church is not the large group, but the smaller communities that come together in houses to share life, study the word, worship and minister together.

I’ve discovered that it is possible to grow in number (corporately) and maintain real community. With it will come challenges, but they’re opportunities to build the Kingdom. We should embrace them.

It may be that the maturity level of some believers has them seeing a weekend “mega” gathering as church. They are just passive receivers of sermons. I think you’re always going to have people who think that way. I’ve even seen them in house churches. They just come, sit, and leave.

So it’s like this. If the leadership and core members hold fast to promoting and practicing sincere relationships in face-to-face community, the church will stay the course of vibrant Kingdom community and outreach.

I appreciate Greg helping us to see the way forward.

Are you a part of an Anabaptist church? How has your church responded to the idea of growing into a large congregation as you reach your community? Do you believe it’s possible to grow numerically and maintain a deep level of community? Please, share your thoughts.

D.D. Flowers, 2013.

Read Greg’s entire post here at ReKnew.org.


Support ReKnew

As many of you know, I did a Q&A with Pastor Greg Boyd about his ministry and upcoming books back in November 2012. I have followed Greg for a few years now (2006?). His theology has influenced me on multiple levels. I have often found his work to confirm much of my own study.

If I’m being gleefully honest… Greg has brought about a paradigm shift in my understanding of the nature of God in Christ, the complexities of the universe, and the beauty of the Kingdom of God.

Several weeks ago I had the opportunity to Skype with Greg. We talked for an hour about our lives and how they have converged in pursuit of the Kingdom. I told him of my desire to plant a church in Texas that appreciates real theological inquiry and engenders creative mission.

The sort of thing he is leading at Woodland Hills in St. Paul.

BTW: In case you’re wondering, I’ve been in conversation with friends and in serious prayer about how to move forward. We’ve been in Houston for almost six years, but we have been considering the possibility of making a move and doing something new in Austin—where the culture and environment is much different than our own.

I appreciate your continued prayers as we seek the Lord.

As I told Greg, I feel that my place is in leading a church sometime in the near future. But not just another evangelical church. I’m not sure where that will be or what it will look like yet, but in the meantime I’m believing that… as I’ve said to my friends… God is doing stuff.

And I believe God is doing stuff through ReKnew. I’m excited about the work these guys are doing!

Here’s what Greg posted at his blog a couple weeks back:

We are living at a very important, and very exciting, juncture of history. The old religion of Christendom that has been identified with “Christianity” the last 1600 years is dying, and out of its ruins is arising a new tribe of kingdom revolutionaries. All around the globe people are getting the revelation that the kingdom is all about a God a looks like Jesus transforming a people to look like JesusReKnew was launched six months ago to serve as a catalyst for this revolution and to help mobilize this revolution. If you are among those who want to be part of this new movement that God is raising up, I ask you to please give me 9 minutes of your time to listen to the vision I cast in this talk and to prayerfully consider how God might call you to join us in this important endeavor.

I’m committed to Greg’s vision because I believe in his ministry and the tremendous resource that ReKnew will become in the days ahead. If you’re looking for something worthwhile to invest in this year, please consider supporting ReKnew in the coming Kingdom revolution.

Viva La Revolution!

D.D. Flowers, 2013.


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