I get asked that about “those big churches” very often by leaders who aren’t at those churches. I can tell some fun stories about huge churches with legendary staff culture issues and some who are hemorrhaging money.

I’ve had some experience with some of the bigger named churches as well as “regular” churches worldwide. This isn’t super scientific but here are five key things I see most of those “awesome” churches excelling in. (Yep, all G’s.)

  • GUTaka conviction (I find this to be rare.)
    They focus most of their energy on learning not copying. There’s a difference between awareness and plagiarism, by the way. “What are they doing?” is a fair question as long as it’s to gain perspective and not a cheat code.
    Authenticity isn’t a wish and bullet point of a staff meeting, it’s a practiced value. And we all know it when we see it. We also know it when we’re not it.
    They don’t build their mission around the preferences of the people. Generally they don’t say excuses like “Well Swebb, in this city it’s more like [this].” Or “The people in our area are just different.” 
    They generally don’t really know what others churches do. And really don’t care. They’re not asking “I wonder if that church is closing for Rona?”
  • GRIT – aka consistency
    They commit longer to fewer things in a world where most “commit” flippantly to many things.
    They stick to their thing, not respond to their dislike of someone else’s thing.
    They’re not big on doing conferences and rarely attend them. And when they do finally host one, they’re far bigger than 1000 people. Some churches reach 15,000+ before ever hosting their first conference. Yet we all know a church or two of 500 who’ve cranked out 3 already. They know that hosting conferences is more distracting to their mission than it is productive.
    Conferences are also a great way to ensure a plateau. Few do them and still grow. Because conferences tease you and make you think you’re awesome. And the awesome don’t grind.
  • GRIND – aka hustle
    The Sabbath was made for man, not man for Sabbath. They know how to rest and leave it up to their teams to do the same. They don’t spend an inordinate amount of energy on keeping things “manageable” for their staff. They lead and let lead.
    They generally own the calendar and are open to last minute changes if necessary. They’re not slaves to the calendar and don’t weaponize “well we already had this planned” when something can be better.
    They don’t compartmentalize the calling. Work, family, and fun overlap instead of compete.
  • GRATITUDE – aka freaking gratitude
    It’s never silent or invisible with them.
    They don’t pay late or try to haggle a price or expectation even from Walmart.
    They may not pay the most (some do) but their perks and benefits are better. And speaking of the intangible, their references post-job are better too.
    They mine for wisdom, not just ask questions. This goes with their grind too.
    They listen more than they speak. I’ve seen more notes in the moleskins of Pastor Steven than in many pastors of churches of 500. I’ve heard Pastor Steven ask more questions to a church planter than the planter could get in to him.
  • GENEROSITY – aka honoring
    Generosity is systematic, budgeted, and fought for. It’s not generous if it’s from what’s left over.
    They generally give to the point of pain. Including severance to those who don’t deserve it, benevolence to people who don’t attend, and checks that don’t make it on social media.
    They place a high value on generosity from the people too. They don’t apologize for expecting a Christian community to be generous.
    They’re more generous with their patience that anyone realizes. Patient with nay-sayers. Patient with questions from people who won’t ever heed the wisdom. Patient with people who sit, soak, and suck off the ministry. Patient with broken people serving on their teams and not having to jump through hoops be an integral part of the ministry.


Those “big churches” are exceptional. But you can be too. 

Let me help you define the culture you want and work to build it. Call me.