Big Churches by David Brown
- David Brown
- Feb 29, 2012
- Category: rss
by David Brown
Hardly a month goes by that I don't hear someone say something negative about big churches. “Those mega churches...” they begin... and then the vitriol begins to pour. You'd think that Satan's greatest weapons against God's Kingdom are those big, mean, machine-like ministries that don't care about people, water down the gospel and generally destroy multitudes of lives in their evil and compromising methods of ministry.
The Barna Research Group has found that 3500 to 4000 churches close their doors each year in America. Big churches often get the blame for this too. After all, “they're running the smaller churches out of business” we're told. Never mind that those ministries may possibly have shot themselves in the foot through inefficient ministry and tired, worn out programs that fail to inspire. Did the large churches destroy them? Are big churches bad? Or... could it be that God actually has something to do with the developing of progressive, creative, “need meeting” places of worship that have a huge magnetic power to draw large numbers of people? By the way...isn't that the way the church started out back in the Book of Acts. Wasn't the first church...big?
Actually, it was. The Holy Spirit empowered the fledgling church of 120 adherents on the Jewish feast day of Pentecost. The spiritual experience of those dedicated few maximized their ability to draw a crowd and proclaim their message and by the end of that day, 3000 people were added to their rolls.
Then it seems that just a few days later, another Holy Spirit empowered manifestation through the Apostles Peter and John culminated in the miraculous healing of a lame man and 5000 more people were converted to faith in Jesus and joined the church. Scholars tell us that by 6th chapter of Acts (roughly six years after the church's inception) some 30,000 people were attending the First Church of Jerusalem! Oh my! A Mega Church!
That first church was a phenomenal ministry dynamo, ministering to people, winning souls, releasing miracle power, enduring murderous persecution, planting churches, witnessing to their world. There seemed to be no stopping them! Wait a minute. Isn't that supposed to be the idea?
Jesus said “I will build my church and the gates of hell won't prevail against it”! Does it surprise us when Christ's words actually come to pass?
People don't seem to mind BIG government, BIG debt, BIG servings at restaurants, meeting BIG movie stars, or getting BIG paychecks and bonuses. (The list goes on and on.) I sincerely wonder why they are so against BIG churches!
Is it really because they can't find a friend there? Or is it because they can't control a large ministry? Is it really because those churches teach false doctrine? Or is it because they don't want to hear the truths they do teach? Is it because the message of large churches is too soft, too light, too...positive? Or is it simply because they themselves are too negative?
Now, I admit that some churches compromise the message of the Bible. Obviously! In fact many of them do. Churches lower the morality standards of biblical faith. They misrepresent God through false doctrine, judgmentalism, legalism and all forms of extremism. Some churches really fail in the “love” department. Some are too denominational while others are “way” too independent! But these kinds of problems are not limited to large churches. Smaller churches have the same problems. Size is not what causes ministry dysfunction. Spiritual laziness does.
Now let me say at this point that I'm not against small churches. Every baby starts out “small”. So it is with most churches. There's nothing wrong with being small. There is something wrong with being stagnant, sedentary and stuck! And there is something very wrong when we make that kind of unfruitful condition the normal church experience...or what we're “comfortable” with. I don't believe God is comfortable with it at all.
Suffice it to say that I think it just may be God's plan to let “some” churches or ministry teams “go away”. Or as Jesus said in Revelation, maybe he has had to “remove their candlestick” (their ability to shine”), especially when they can be replaced with efficient, God honoring, people lifting, need meeting ministries.
By the way, 4500 new churches are being planted each year in our nation at present. It's true. The Lord really is doing something to transform the face of modern Christianity in our nation and our world. Jesus pointed out that new wine has to be stored in new wineskins. None of us enjoy seeing a church decline or die. It's exciting though, to see the surge in Church planting and growth that is occurring in our lifetime. Jesus really is on the throne. I believe large churches are a part of his plan.
We've all heard the negatives about big churches. Supposedly, “they don't care about people”. People are just “numbers”. “There's no accountability” “It's difficult to be a part or find your place”....etc., etc. It's amazing though isn't it...that these large churches can become so large...when they don't really “care about people”! Sounds like to me they're doing “something” right. It's equally amazing that they can win so many new converts and effectively disciple them...if they don't really teach the true Word of God! Can we all just admit these criticisms have been grossly exaggerated!
Let me outline some positive aspects of large and mega size churches.
- Big churches have big visions, big dreams, big plans and achieve big things.
Big churches have more ministries, classes and groups with which to serve their people as well as more places for believers to serve and utilize their spiritual gifts.
Big churches have larger leadership teams and staffs with which to meet the needs of their people.
Big churches have a bigger ability to reap a harvest of souls in these end times as Jesus' return draws near. A combine is simply a more efficient harvesting tool than a sickle is. So it is with large ministries.
God is big. Big churches reflect his nature and glory in a unique way!
Many big churches are the most loving ones I know. God is big...and he is still Love! So largeness and love can co-exist! (By the way, some small churches are the most unloving ones I know. That's why they stay small.)
Here are some additional points to ponder.
Productivity and growth is natural and God ordained.
Any church that is fruitful naturally gets bigger.
How big is big enough? Can we stop growth at any point or limit the number of people we will minister to...at our whim?
Is our own whim, comfort or personal preference really what's important?
Is any church too big for God?
If the Book of Acts is our model (and I believe it is) then can we ever excuse a small and limited vision.
Jesus commanded the church to reach out to its city, its region, it's neighboring nation and the whole world. (Acts 1:8) Can we really justify just wanting to be a little neighborhood church, content to stay small and confined?
God is Great...and great ministries and churches reveal this aspect of his nature to an unbelieving world. Does God really want his body and message to be largely ignored because of insignificance?
A large church is simply a bunch of smaller churches glued together by love, vision and leadership. It's perfectly acceptable to belong to a church where you don't know everyone and where you connect with your own smaller group of friends and leaders. It's sort of like living in a city. You may prefer living in a small town..or attending a small church. But please don't push your desire for smallness on them. An individual has no right to limit the growth of any group he or she is a member of!
All churches are “cliquey”! Don't complain about it. It's human nature. Just fine your clique and click with them!
Should I remind you that Jesus himself drew thousands of people to his meetings during his earthly ministry? Should he do any less today through his body, the church?
Finally, is my vision really all about building a big church? No. It's about building big people. It's about winning, impacting, discipling and developing people with big hearts, big dreams, big potential and big achievements in God!