Up to 16,000 people can attend services at the new Lakewood Church location in Houston. The congregation could grow to 50,000 by the end of the year, packing the church several times each week.
Even though megachurches may be getting all the publicity, it's churches like New Hope Baptist church, with 30 members, that remain the backbone of organized ministries. Perhaps it's because the pastors still have time to throw the football with neighborhood kids as Pastor John Mosley was doing Tuesday afternoon. He can't think of anyone wanting to leave their little white clapboard sanctuary for a megachurch. "Not right off the bat," Mosley said with a large laugh.
Others go to megachurches, if not for any other reason but curiosity. Nacogdoches First Baptist Church Associate Pastor Bobby Smith said, "I don't think there's any doubt some people probably go there for the entertainment value and because of how high tech it is, but I think you can worship in that kind of atmosphere."
Emily Bankston liked her visit to Lakewood before it moved to a basketball arena. She's not so sure about her next visit. "I liked the big church. I liked seeing the 10,000 people there and all the opportunity I got to serve, but I think pulling it away from the church setting it kinda loses its feel."
For others, the vastness is what they find attractive. Smith observed, "You can go worship in anonymity, almost. You can go there, nobody knows you're there, do your worship, and walk away from it."
Pastor Mosley doesn't fault that, but knows it's not for him. "It doesn't matter the size of the church, but I'd rather be where I can be intimate with my people, know my people, and be able to talk to them about concerns...anything," said Mosley.
Smith said churches, no matter the size, are in a win-win situation. If one person is served, they all rejoice in the success.