Thursday, August 25, 2011


Yesterday I was driving through some old stomping grounds that I had not seen in a few years and there was a new mega-church building. It was modern, clean, and mostly just BIG! I knew that the area was still growing with new homes being built even in the current economy but wondered from where all of the people to populate such a church came.

It is a complaint heard a bit as of late that all of the quaint little Catholic Churches are closing; the small structured buildings with just a couple hundred families. We are moving toward the mega-mentality – huge congregations with families more or less hovering around 1,000 to 4,000 or more. But still – even that does not seem all that impressive compared to these mega churches.

That is – until you consider that we are comparing apples and oranges.

Consider that new mega-church. Often it is one of a kind – a rare flower in the field. And even when this is not entirely the case it is a one of a kind experience in its denomination. Therefore it attracts people from all over. It may be the case that even the vast majority of the people that it serves do not live in the neighborhood of the church. It may be that it will grow to have an “east campus” or a “west campus” or some such thing to serve its people better, but in the end, even for its great size, compared to the world it is really quite a small thing.

Your local Catholic parish is dedicated to a geographical area. The whole world is divided up into dioceses and a diocese into parishes. Granted some of them by necessity are larger than others, but if you live in an area as we do here in Ohio, to go for a short walk can take you into another parish. The parish is dedicated to the people who live around it (whether they be Catholic or practicing or not.) Whereas the impressive mega-church may attract people from as many as a dozen or so parishes, each parish (for the most part) attracts only those interested in the Catholic faith from its immediate area. Therefore there will never be a St. Sebastian North Campus in Highland Square – that would be St. Vincent’s territory. And when a parish starts gaining a mega-church size, we often subdivide the parish into two and establish a new parish. Therefore we more rarely take on gigantic proportions remaining little fish in a huge pond rather than a huge fish in a tiny pond.


Rich said...

Any every Catholic Church is home!

Dennis said...

Mega churches seem to attract most folks because of their resources. If I had a nickel for every time I heard "...but they have a great kids program!" While the mega church mentality may seem to be taking over I think this is somewhat of a phase. Evangelical churches (which comprise most mega churches) seem to be heading to a "barbell." They are either going to be giant mega churches or small "house" churches. Having recently returned Home to the true Church from a mega church I can say mega churches can be pretty impersonal (among other things). There is nothing as beautiful as the liturgy and nothing can ever compare to the Eucharist, the source and summit of our life. My goodness, does it feel good to be home!!!