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Will megachurches go the way of the shopping mall?

Will megachurches go the way of the shopping mall?

Thom S. Rainer suggests that unlike baby boomers, the millennial generation tends to prefer small to big. Witness the decline of the shopping mall in recent decades. What does this suggest for spacious, sprawling, traditional worship space? What does it mean for large congregations, which are usually most successful if they can encourage small-group development? He writes:

There is more to the decline of the malls than the rise of the digital world. The Boomer generation has been the generation of bigness and sprawl. Their parents, in the aftermath of World War II, moved numbers of them to the new and massive suburbia. Large malls would soon follow. Most large megachurch buildings were constructed primarily for the favor of the Boomers.

But the children of the Boomers, Generation X and, even more, the Millennials, have been pushing for more intimacy and smallness. They triggered the unprecedented growth of Starbucks. They have been the key movers in social media, which has fostered a new online intimacy.

Among the Christian Millennials there is a desire for greater intimacy in church. They are in many ways triggering a new small group revolution. And though they may not have an explicit aversion to large church facilities, neither are they attracted to them.

As there will still be large malls twenty years from now, so will there be large church facilities whose worship centers can accommodate 2,000 or more in one service. But you will also see a discernible difference in megachurches in ten or twenty years. Fewer of these large churches will have large facilities. More will have smaller worship centers and multiple venues, many with multiple gathering times and days.

Read his full post here.

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