How to run a megachurch? With lots of help

By Lucas L. Johnson Ii

Associated Press

Published: Thursday, April 12 2012 4:00 p.m. MDT

Another issue, he said, is the amount of involvement. A person who wants to just observe the service may not be able to blend in unnoticed at a small church like they would at one with hundreds of people.

"They're going to notice you and ask you to lead Sunday school, or usher," Hudnut-Beumler said. "There is virtually no dropping in and just sort of observing church. With a megachurch, you can stand on the periphery and have great service."

Nevertheless, Angela Bingham says she enjoys the intimate atmosphere at Walnut Grove Missionary Baptist Church in Murfreesboro, Tenn., which has a membership of about 230.

"You're not just a number," said the 49-year-old school teacher, who has attended the church most of her life. "They know you by name, by face."

In Chesapeake, Va., Martez Layton acknowledges it's possible to "feel like a number" at the 7,500-member Mount Lebanon Baptist Church that he and his wife, Woodrina, attend. But he said they don't because they're both active. The couple, who have been married for over 20 years, heads a marriage counseling ministry.

"It's being involved in the activities in the church is where you begin to build your relationship," he said. "It's not like ... we can have a dinner after church and everybody get to know each other."

Like many megachurches, Layton said he enjoys having abundant resources. For instance, he said the church fed 400 families for Thanksgiving.

"I know at a small church there's no way you can feed 400 families," he said.

But others say just because a church doesn't have "mega" in front of it, doesn't mean it's ineffective.

Richard W. Sibert is pastor of Walnut Grove Missionary Baptist Church. Despite the size of the church, he said it's about the business of caring for its members, and the community.

"Smaller churches are utilizing their talents and abilities on a smaller scale," he said. "Some of them are actually more together than the megachurches."

At St. Mark's United Methodist Church in Laurel, Md., where Robbie Morganfield is pastor, only about 150 people regularly attend the service. But Morganfield still has a vision to build a community center adjacent to the church and believes it can be done if his members commit themselves.

"I think you can be a small church and have a mega-ministry," he said. "It's about vision. A hundred people ... can do a lot of stuff if they're really committed."

Lucas L. Johnson II can be reached at twitter.com/LLJohnsonAP

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