Big Doesn’t Have to Be Bad: The Potential of Large Parishes

Sometimes we’re quick to dismiss ideas or assume that “xyz can’t happen in Catholic parishes, because were just so much larger than such-and-such nondenominational church.”

Yet a study of 25,000 attendees of “mega churches” (defined as Protestant congregations with +2000 weekly attendees across all services) reveals that being a population-blessed 😉 [aka large!] parish or congregation doesn’t have to be an excuse for why attendees aren’t growing spiritually, aren’t serving, etc.

Inspiring tidbits from the study for Catholic parishes grappling with a large parish community?

  • 55% of megachurch attendees volunteer at the church in some way (this is higher than at smaller churches)
  • attenders report a considerable increase in their involvement in church, in their spiritual growth, and in their needs being met
  • despite misconceptions, “large churches today are making good progress in reaching people and moving them from spectators to active participants to growing disciples of Jesus Christ”

Now, this doesn’t automatically mean that just because a Catholic parish is large, it is doing these things. But 🙂 the good news is that size doesn’t have to be an obstacle to forming disciples in a local church setting. Large parishes often have more resources and can use these well to evangelize, to attract the unchurched, and help lead many to real relationship with Jesus Christ.

Bottom line? Whether your parish seems like a tiny house church of Acts or the church on the day of Pentecost, it can, should, and must be a place where individuals come to meet Jesus Christ and his Church.

Background: Budget resources in parishes; Size of Catholic parishes; other statistics on mega churches



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