A lot of us look up to megachurches. Maybe they had a big impact on our lives. Maybe they helped us see something true and beautiful about God. Maybe the crowd and lights dazzled us.
But there's a danger when it comes to looking up to megachurches.
Where they are today doesn't reflect how they got to where they are today.
Say you admire the preacher at a famous megachurch. You try to imitate that preacher. And you fail. Because, before that megachurch preacher preached at a megachurch, he or she preached to a much smaller congregation dozens and dozens, hundreds of times. And that preacher learned and grew.
Beware imitation without practice.
Say you admire the set design at the famous megachurch. You hear people comment how the staging and lighting dramatically enhance the worship experience (and they do). So you imitate. But the set design is just one element of the Sunday morning worship environment. And you don't get a lot of bang for your buck until you're big enough for people to expect to see some bang. I expect all you can eat lobster on a cruise ship but not at a dinner party. The imitation shouts "Trying too hard" at best and "Phony" at worst.
Beware imitation as a shortcut.
Say you admire the Small Groups at a famous megachurch. They do so much well. Lives are being transformed and you're hearing stories about it. You want that for your church. So you imitate. But you lack the systems and the bench depth and the maturity to do what they're doing. You skip from hot idea to hot idea, planting and ripping up and starting over over and over again. It works for them. Why doesn't it work for us.
Beware imitation without infrastructure.
Megachurches almost always want to be imitated. They tend to be generous. They tend to want to see other churches thrive. I can't tell you how grateful I am for megachurches.
You should know this, though. Just because they are standing at the top of a mountain doesn't mean they know the path to the top. Just because they are standing at the top of a mountain doesn't mean the path they walked is still open. Heck, just because they are standing at the top of a mountain doesn't mean they're on the same mountain you're trying to climb.
Don't hate on megachurches, but be cautious imitating them. (And the same goes for campus ministries)