With big data, are megachurches becoming like tech monopolies?

Some interesting food for thought in this article:

What is the role of small and medium sized local churches when high production value content is so readily available online? Which parts of local churches continue to be strengths and which aspects are commodities and potentially outsourced to other providers?

The article mentions relationships as the unique value proposition of the local church. As virtual/digital redefines what local means (since you might have closer relationships with people you play games with online than your neighbor next door) how does that shift impact local churches?

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I really did not like this article. While there were a lot of facts and data suggested, if that’s all there is, then his analysis is fine (though a little clickbaity). My biggest complain about this article is that everything that’s stated in here is of human effort. I don’t see him make any considerations about how the Holy Spirit works or the innate power of the Word itself.


That’s a great point! So you wish he discussed how big data and human effort intersects with the Spirit’s work and the power of the Word of God itself?

To quote Psalm 127 “unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain”. We may have the most advanced platforms and analytics but without the Spirit’s work, it will be in vain (i.e. we may build something impressive, but it won’t be building God’s kingdom). I’ve thought similarly of John 15 “I am the vine, you are the branches. If a person remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” That “doing nothing” seems to mean that although we can accomplish things that appear successful apart from Christ, it won’t produce the fruit that truly matters and endures–that only comes in Christ.

So with that in mind, how do you see the Spirit using technology to accomplish God’s will and might smaller churches without such tools be at a disadvantage or be called to a different kind of work?

Or would you say the whole framing of the question is misguided?

I didn’t read the article yet but just from your question I would say that the purpose of the local pastor is to shepherd his church. The humble sermon isn’t about relaying facts or generic inspiration; it is about addressing a specific people where they are from the living Word of God. You see this clearly in the format of the New Testament letters and in the beginning of Revelation. You can’t outsource that; this by the gifting and direction of the Holy Spirit. I think the “super-pastors” can be a great source of inspiration and an example for the local pastors but they can’t replace the local pastor. Just as the presence of VPs at a company does not replace the need for team managers.

I like your point about the New Testament letters!

It’s interesting how culturally we tend to associate pastors with sermons from the pulpit (I don’t think Jesus preached from a pulpit :)). Even in speech acts there are multiple functions: preaching, teaching, prophesying, admonishing, correcting, rebuking, encouraging, praying, confessing, singing, counseling, and more.

It seems like preaching and teaching from Scripture might happen at scale–akin to the natural amplification of the venues where Jesus preached–but many of the personal and “local” things require “local” shepherds and certainly application, role modeling, and discipleship require specific care and attention.