Why Microchurch? Part 2

I’m out of town this week for orientation for my new job, so I thought I’d do some posts ahead of time on why I’m such a big fan (and practitioner) of microchurches.  

Yesterday I posted about microchurches and discipleship.  Most of us would agree that discipleship happens better in a small group than a big group, but most of us are putting way more time, energy, and resources into our Sunday Services.  Thus the second reason I’m such a big fan of microchurches:

Reason #2:  Stewardship
Traditionally structured church plants (paid staff, rented/mortgaged facilities, equipment, etc.) spend a lot of money on their Sunday services.  I don’t have any figures in front of me, but I know what our church spent (and it was really cheap compared to the rest of you).  We spent about $800-$1000 a month on facility rental towards the end of our old structure (most of you are going, “Wow!  That’s cheap!”).  We had thousands wrapped up in equipment.  We spent most of our week getting ready for Sunday–writing sermons, doing creative stuff for videos, music, evaluation–which is time we were paid for (and thus you could put a dollar amount on it… because time is money).

All on an event that didn’t contribute to making disciples.  The cost/result ratio was ridiculously out of whack.  And we weren’t putting near enough into what was really making disciples–small groups.  So we cut out the Sunday service altogether.

Sunday services require a ton of money (rent, equipment, etc.).  They require a lot of time (sermon writing, video shoots, band practices, coordination of all the elements… and that’s not including the kid stuff).  In my experience, it just doesn’t add up.  Disciples weren’t being made, so we couldn’t justify all the expense just because our people liked it.

Having said that, I’m not saying that Sunday services are bad things.  But if they’re not helping make disciples, maybe we need to evaluate them.

Take some time to evaluate how much time, money, and effort is spent on your Sunday event–and put it in something you can measure.  Maybe a dollar amount–your mortgage/rent, utilities, pay (calculate how much you and those involved make an hour, and then multiply that by the actual number of hours put into your Sunday services).  Now… is that cost adding up in results?  If so, awesome.  If not (and it wasn’t for us), then maybe its time for a staff retreat and some hard discussions.

Church planting:  The Financial Cost
I know guys who’ve raised anywhere from $300,ooo to $700,000 plus to plant churches in a traditional structure.  Churches regularly spend millions on facilities that serve one main purpose–Sundays (many churches spend millions more on facilities for youth, etc.).  Much of that amount that church planters raise goes to salaries, advertising, and equipment (among other things).

Again, I’m not saying this is a bad thing.  I’m just wondering if there’s a better way.

When I move to Greenville to start a new microchurch network, it will cost me $0.00 to do so.  I’m not bragging about that–I’m simply stating a fact.  I won’t get paid to plant churches.  We won’t spend money on advertising.  The reason:  simplicity–which I’ll post more about tomorrow.

In the meantime, how can your church be a better manager of people’s money, time, resources, and “sweat equity”? 

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About Aaron

Aaron is a follower of Jesus. He's married to his smokin' hot wife Laura and is the father of three adorable girls. He enjoys a robust cigar, a complex root beer, a good movie, writing, football, thought-provoking books, and rousing discussions about subjects you're not supposed to talk about (like theology and politics). Religious people irritate him (because he once was one). He's on a quest to find the perfect dry rub and sauce for ribs.
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3 Responses to Why Microchurch? Part 2

  1. David says:

    Excellent bro – just plain excellent thoughts. I know you realize we’d probably have more success overthrowing the modern welfare state than overhauling the modern entrenched church! But that doesn’t mean it can’t be done. Economic forces will force changes upon us eventually anyway.

  2. brendan hall says:

    Hey there,

    Great reading your posts. It is interesting what you say about micro-church. I guess the question is… Which model is more fruitful, after all fruitfulness is biblical. Second question is which model gets more people saved. I would say the lifechurch.tv model has a good mix of fruitfulness and micro-community. Interested at your thoughts.. http://brendanhall.tv

    • Aaron says:

      Hey Brendan,

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I would have to disagree that fruitfulness always means numbers. Fruitfulness applies just as much to holiness as to how many people you get into your door. Much more is said in the Bible about living an obedient life than punching a ticket into heaven. I would argue (and have seen) that if a person is a disciple of Jesus committed to obedience in all areas of life, he will be fruitful both in life change and in helping others find Jesus.

      As to which model “gets more people saved”, the jury is still out. The cold hard truth is that way more people are leaving the church in our culture than are coming into it. Many who aren’t are flocking to churches with more resources, bigger and supposedly better programs, etc. Small churches are a farm system for large churches–and that’s not a compliment. What passes for church growth is nothing more than shuffling the deck. Rare is the church that grows by conversion (they exist, but they’re rare). We’re just starting to see the beginnings of microchurch movements here in the West (it’s been happening in the East for decades), so it is still very early. Punching tickets to heaven is good; making multiplying disciples is far better.

      Lifechurch.tv is great, but it’s personality driven to the max, and I would argue that the church grows by addition, but not multiplication (it will be interesting to see how many of these megachurches with superstar leaders do after that personality is gone). No one could plant a church like lifechurch.tv, but almost anyone could plant a church of 4-12 people. It all boils down to discipleship. If we make good disciples who love God, love people, and are on mission with Jesus, they will multiply and churches will sprout.

      I’m not saying we don’t need other models. I think God has used them in spite of their flaws. I do think microchurches are the best environments for disciples to be made–and they don’t need all the glitz and glamor and outrageous resources of most Sunday AM services.

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