Church Education Trust

Miller’s assessment of the growing new paradigm churches is that they were led by “extremely bright pastors, close to the age and experience of their baby boomer congregations and unfettered by seminary education”.[1]  The implication is that these pastors are not overly influenced by traditional seminary education which thus allows them to be entrepreneurs and free to assess their community without restrictions about which method may be most useful in reaching out.

Dynamic leaders have the ability to excite, enthuse, inspire and motivate people until the vision cast is quickly owned.  Leadership according to Hybels is about positive change and mobilizing the troops, while clinging to core values and allocating resources to the place of most need.  There is also the ability to discern when certain aspects of church programmes are not working and the wisdom to make significant changes.  With strong dynamic leadership the desire to create a leadership development environment becomes a priority.

MCM is built on the foundation of dynamic leadership which not only understands the vision but knows how to outwork it in their particular context.  Dan Southerland,[2] pastor of the Flamingo Road Church, concurs with the need for visionary, gifted leadership; he suggests: “When God leads us he gives us specific leadership”. Warren underlines the role of the leader by suggesting that “God wants to use your gifts, your passion, your natural abilities, your personality and your experiences to impact your part of the world”.  Miller talks about “cultural pioneers” [3]as the new breed of new paradigm church leadership.


Leadership for the Mega movement churches was crucial to its longevity, numerical development, spiritual health, impact and quality of ministry. Thumma and Travas suggest: Most megachurch leadership teams in our experience have given considerable thought to most aspects of the church’s life, but they also spontaneously experiment with new ideas. They reflect deeply on theological traditions, but they are also innovative pioneers at finding ways to adapt their church to its changing ministry context.Hybels wrote a book in 2002 entitled “Courageous Leadership” where he highlights many things about the leader but indicates the strategic importance of the gift of leadership, its function, instincts and scope. 

He believed that church leaders, if spiritually gifted have the potential power within to change the world.[5]Hybels sums up dynamic leadership which reflects the MCM attitude to community and its needs when describing his church’s reaction to a family need. He says:There is nothing like the local church when it’s working right. Its beauty is indescribable. Its power is breath taking. Its potential is unlimited. It comforts the grieving and heals the broken in the context of community. It builds bridges to seekers and offers truth to the confused. It provides resources for those in need and opens its arms to the forgiven, the downtrodden and the disillusioned. It breaks the chains of addictions, frees the oppressed, and offers belonging to the marginalized of this world.

Whatever the capacity for human suffering, the church has a great capacity for healing and wholeness.[6] .Nothing in Hybels` mind comes close to the church; he suggests that the internal and motivating potential is realised only through the gifted ministry of dynamic leaders driven by vision and purpose.  Wagner comments that the gift of faith lets the church growth pastor know where he should go; the gift of leadership lets him know how to get there.  Wagner understands the gift of leadership as a special ability that God gives to certain members of the body of Christ to set goals in accordance with God’s purpose for the future and to communicate these goals to others in such a way that they voluntarily and harmoniously work together to accomplish those goals for the glory of God. [7] .


While there isn’t a typical Mega Church model, that in itself is helpful to dispel some of the unfounded myths that are associated with the movement.  What is similar is that most of the Mega Churches have distinct vision, dynamic leadership and will follow the “popular church growth movement” model.  This will be dealt with in chapter 4.


3.2.3 Progressive worship.                    

Context is key to everything and out of context progressive worship develops and that development can be summed up in the evolution of the worship services with many different end results in mind[8], i.e. traditional, contemporary, blended, seeker sensitive, seeker centred or multiple track services.Warren[9] who follows this approach suggests that “your preferred style of worship says more about your cultural background than your theology”.  He argues in defence of his position that Jesus only gave two requirements for legitimate worship: “God is Spirit and his worshippers must worship him in spirit and truth”.[10]


Miller’s analysis of the Vineyard church finds identification with how most Mega church pastors understand worship.  He[11] suggests, as he assesses the new paradigm church worshippers “direct most of our songs to God as opposed to singing about God”. The differentiation between traditionalists and new paradigm worshippers is stark in Miller’s view.  For many traditionalists sing about God as opposed to singing to Him and loose that sense of intimacy that is seen in the new paradigm churches as they interact with the sacred.


Southerland would suggest that worship should “move from traditional to extremely contemporary”.[12] Donald J.MacNair[13] would not criticise Southerland`s contemporary view of worship but would suggest that it is not traditional or contemporary worship that is acceptable to God, but that worship is “the cultivating and satisfying of spiritual thirst”. The key issue is how to be able to effectively meet that need in the human soul and that will follow a contextual form which may or may not radically change as time passes. 

The key issue is to be ready to make the necessary changes and it is here that the MCM is more attentive and willing to move.George Barna would suggest that all the sacred cows in the life of the church need exposed; he suggests that “no aspect of ministry can be granted an exemption from rigorous review and evaluation”.[14]  Worship for him falls into that category of rigorous review and the MCM is keen to involve all who come into their services, so there is an emphasis on being seeker sensitive and on reshaping of worship to make the stranger feel comfortable.  Miller[15] comments that, “It is obvious from our congregational surveys that worship is what draws people to new paradigm churches”.

That is achieved, as James Emery White[16] suggests, in “the simple things” that most Christians would take for granted. Warren[17] suggests that “in genuine worship God’s presence is felt, God’s pardon is offered, God’s purposes are revealed and God’s power is displayed”.  He suggests that there is a clear and “intimate relationship between worship and evangelism; it is the goal of evangelism to produce worshippers of God”.[18]  Worship for Warren[19] was to be seeker sensitive; he believed that to be a biblical concept and supported his position by quoting the Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 14:23 where he commanded that tongues be limited in public worship. His reasoning was that speaking in tongues seemed foolishness to unbelievers; he did


[1] Donald E. Miller, Reinventing American Protestantism, 18.

[2] Dan Southerland, Transitioning, 44.

[3] Miller, RAP, 23.

[4] Scott Thumma & Dave Travis, Beyond Mega Church Myths,14.

[5] Bill Hybels, Creative Leadership, Michigan, Zonderavan, 2002, 12.

[6] Hybels, CL, 23.

[7] C. Peter Wagner, Your Spiritual Gifts, Eastbourne, England, Marc Europe, 1990, 162f.

[8] David Beer, Releasing your Church to Grow, Eastbourne, Kingsway Publications, 2004, 99.

[9] Rick Warren, The Purpose Driven Church, 240.

[10] John`s Gospel, ch.4.24.

[11] Donald E. Miller, Reinventing American Protestantism, 87.

[12] Dan Southerland, Transitioning, 12.

[13] Donald MacNair, The Practices of a Healthy Church, New Jersey, USA, P&R Pub. 1999.

[14] George Barna, User Friendly Churches, California, USA, Regal books, 1991, 95.

[15] Donald E. Miller, Reinventing American Protestantism, 89.

[16] James Emery White, Rethinking your Church, Grand Rapids, Michigan, Baker 1997, 86.

[17] Rick Warren, The Purpose Driven Church, 242.

[18] Warren, TPDC, 242-3.

[19] Warren, TPDC, 243.

< back to previous page >

©2008 Church Education Trust