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Have We Seen the Last Mega-Campus?

September 13, 2018

By Jim Tomberlin, repost from Ministry Trends

Through the internet and social media, the ministry of a local church is no longer confined to its facility.

Megachurches are not going anywhere. Their number is increasing, and so is their attendance. But it’s becoming less common for megachurches to bring all their worshipers together at a single campus.

At the end of the 20th century, megachurches developed huge tracts of land and large mall-like facilities with thousands of sanctuary seats. These days that strategy is fading, and new mega-campuses are rarely built. Why? These massive facilities struggle to serve their primary purpose over the long haul. Some pastor-centric churches will manage to keep their existing mega-campuses going, but many others will sit half-empty in the next decade as their aging senior pastors retire.

How are mega-campuses adapting?

Like the empty cathedrals of Europe, a few mega-campuses will probably become historical landmarks—inspiring, but empty. Some will be sold and used for non-religious purposes or torn down. But many mega- campuses are repurposing and readapting their facilities in creative ways.

REPURPOSING involves right-sizing and retrofitting a facility to accommodate a smaller congregation:

  • Reducing seating space by closing off some areas with curtains, or by creating larger aisles and shorter rows
  • Replacing fixed seating with other options, such as sofas or café tables and chairs
  • Converting portions of the worship space to “comfort” or “family” rooms to create alternate spaces for families with children
  • Converting massive stage platforms and choir lofts into “back of house” functions like greenrooms, storage spaces, set-building workshops, and office suites

READAPTING involves converting a campus into a mixed-use facility:

  • Remodeling some portions of the facility for retail, housing,
    and commercial uses
  • Inviting ethnic congregations to use some of the facility
  • Sharing office and meeting space with nonprofit organizations, food banks, and clothing centers
  • Renting space to a preschool or childcare center
  • Offering after-school mentoring programs
  • Opening a community café
  • Partnering with the city and schools to use the facility for conferences, artistic performances, and community events
  • Leasing office and parking space to businesses or local government agencies




Adapted from Church Locality: New Rules for Church Buildings in a Multisite, Church Planting, and Giga-Church World, by Jim Tomberlin and Tim Cool (Rainer, 2014)

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