The lead pastor of a West Coast-based megachurch believes that there are people who would do better going to a small congregation instead.
Daniel Fusco, lead pastor for Crossroads Community Church, which has campuses in Washington State and Oregon, discussed at the Parenting Teens Summit event about the value of smaller churches.
Fusco acknowledged that Crossroads, which counts its attendance in the thousands, "can't be the right place for everybody."
"Crossroads, where I pastor now, is a very large church. The downside of the very large church is that [there are] all sorts of people who can't connect with God surrounded by a couple thousand people," explained Fusco.
"What I try to tell people is don't throw the baby out with the bathwater. Just because they don't want to go to the church that you raised them in doesn't mean they don't want to connect with God."
Fusco stressed that "the church is not monolithic in its methodology," explaining that "people connect with God and other people in many contexts."
"Maybe they're finding that the pastor speaks in a way they don't understand, maybe they're finding that the music is more off-putting than worshipful for them," continued Fusco.
"We have people at Crossroads who love what God is doing at Crossroads and they connect with God, but they actually come into the campus and sitting in the huge room with the big screens, they would rather meet at their house and invite their friends over and share a breakfast and they turn on our Internet campus and they worship together."
Megachurch pastors have often differed on the value of small congregations. In 2016, North Point Community Church Pastor Andy Stanley garnered controversy when he called people who chose to go to small churches "selfish."
"When I hear adults say 'well I don't like a big church. I like about 200, I want to be able to know everybody,' I say you are so stinking selfish," argued Stanley.
"You care nothing about the next generation. All you care about is you and your five friends. You don't care about your kids, anybody else's kids."
Stanley later took to Twitter to retract his comments: "The negative reaction to the clip from last weekend's message is entirely justified. Heck, even I was offended by what I said! I apologize."
In 2015, Saddleback Church Pastor Rick Warren remarked in a YouTube video that churches should not be judged by their size, but rather how well they do ministry and fellowship.
"I think one of the things we need to do is change what we reward in churches today, because for the last 50 years, denominations and organizations have rewarded size, attendance," said Warren.
"There's no correlation between the size and strength of a church. A church can be big and strong, or it can be big and flappy. It can be strong and small, or it can be small and wimpy. Big isn't better. Small isn't automatically better. Healthy is better."
The Parenting Teens Summit is being hosted by Axis and The Colson Center for Christian Worldview and features interviews with pastors, authors and experts, including Dr. Julie Slattery, Pastor Tim Keller, Christian hip hop artist Propaganda, Ravi Zacharias, Gary Chapman and others.
Other topics addressed by Fusco included how to reach teens who are often bored at church. "At the very least, our ministry for students should be fun," Fusco said. "If we make church like another day at school, we're misrepresenting who the Lord is."
Fusco said churches should not be presenting Jesus as boring and God as detached, stoic and stuffy. The Gospel is fun and following Jesus is an amazing adventure, he stressed.