How to Deal with Congregation Envy


New York Times reporter Max Chafkin recently visited Hillsong New York at the invitation of Scott Harrison, founder of charity: water. He wrote about his experience on the hip Times insider blog called “The 6th Floor.” Here’s an excerpt:

“I don’t know if the place was technically sold out — can a church sell out? — but the line to get in ran the length of Irving Place and then snaked halfway down 16th Street, and the place was packed. The crowd was young, beautiful and, it seemed, unattached. I saw almost no one over 40, and none had brought children.”

Are you jealous?

I have to admit, that was my first reaction. I thought of my church: our fading burgundy seating, terrible acoustics, and suburban crowd. I knew we’d never be cool enough to draw attention from our local newspaper, much less from the Times.

But we do our best.

Ministry is service, not celebrity. (Click to tweet) God has called me to meet the needs I see—whether or not they come wrapped in a designer label. But I still get stars in my eyes from time to time, and I need to be reminded of Jesus’ example of service and humility.

Do you ever feel congregation envy? How do you cure it? Tell us in comments.


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  1. says

    No Children? the problem is no vision for the next generation… if we have no next generation to pass what we have on… there is no future for the church… might as well shut it down now…

  2. Lori Kovac says

    I'm not really interested in building a bigger church. I'm more interested in leading my neighbours and friends to Jesus.

    I think that if we each take personal responsibility for evangelism, churches will grow in numbers. Just remember that if you lead someone to the Lord, you don't own them and He may want them to attend a different church from yours.

  3. says

    We should only be envious if believe that every church has a unique vision and target audience to reach! If we knew those transferable principles that would help us to discover our own churches unique vision and target audience. Maybe we could all have lines around the corner?

  4. Rob Ash says

    I think youve got it wrong here , there was a time when I was a bit younger , some churches gave a very distingtive we only want certain types here, the young and restless and the rough and ready were not encouraged, and believe me that was and still is world wide , if hillsong is a church for young people, leave it alone for goodness sake, there was a time when people like you complained that the young were not being reached, you just sound like a pharisee who is envious because Jesus is doing something that does not rock your boat. Be glad that someone is doing something for the youth of today , Let it rock Hillsong , God Bless you endevours.

  5. says

    And whenever a prophet from God pipes up to bring correction to THE CHURCH…they KILL HIM. Let us therefore take the Pharisee's neigh saying…on the cheek…and be careful where we put God's Prophets…down a well for instance may be a bad start….but it;'s not how we start that's important, but rather how we finish..:)

  6. Randy Samuels says

    If there is a wrong here, it is the "I'm looking for a fight" attitude given. The article was simply and clearly reminding us that as the church of Jesus Christ, we are to follow Him… not current cultural trendiness, complicated metaphorical methodologies, 'gotta do it like the big dogs attitude etc. Hillsong is obviously being used mightily to reach those whom GOD is bringing. We each must aspire to be that same light to the world. Please don't attack that which is your own straw man. Join the brother in rejoicing for the work of Jesus at the Hillsong Church and take heed to his warning against a heart that covets rather one that serves. Believe me… it can be in all who are in ministry.

  7. says

    Who are the Church?
    Paul says they are the body of Christ. He also says we are baptized into that body by the Holy Spirit.
    Have you been baptized by the Holy Spirit since you believed in Jesus?
    How do you know?
    These are the questions we should all be able to answer because they are the beginning of salvation from death.
    Which congregation you go to is of no interest to Jesus, He wants to baptize you with the Holy Spirit so you can be a member of His body. Why else would He say, He who believes and is baptized will be saved.

  8. says

    Acts 19 v 6 ….the Holy Spirit came upon them and they spoke with tongues and then prophesied." After they spoke in tongues they had the Holy Spirit and therefore were prophets, true prophets of God. Amen

  9. says

    If your church isn't growing, maybe it's a symptom of something else. Don't get me wrong, there are some examples of bad churches that have a lot of people. However, there are many large churches that are doing tremendous good. I truely believe that some of the most famous pastors/churches aren't as innovative, passionate and remarkable as some churches that you have never heard of.

    One of the things I love about the Church (I use that word in the largest way possible) is that there is freedom to explore how to worship and lead in unique ways. From doctrine to music, from astetics to size – the church is a beaitful mosaic and an expression of the uniqueness of the human soul.

    Lead well, be innovative and ask tough questions, become passionate followers of Christ, teach sound theology, love people in your community and your church will grow. Focus on that, and not on what other churches are doing.

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