“I don’t think mega churches are God’s plan for the church.” Said a prominent denominational leader in a mainstream denomination that I won’t mention…
As an “all in”, no holds barred, member of one of America’s largest mega churches, I would take offense at that statement. I would, except I am working on not taking offense at stupid comments like that. If we die daily to self then dead people are hard to offend, right?
Anyway. Kids, we don’t say stupid. Instead, we say “uninformed” or “ignorant”.
I’m going to go out on a limb and say that most people who have this view of really, really large churches are not a part of one. I understand. I wasn’t always a part of one either. And I might have been a little suspicious myself before … back when I was uninformed or ignorant. In my journey through life, I have been a part of lots of churches. One as small as fifty… actually fifty would have been a super good Sunday for that church, others with hundreds or a few thousand. Currently, my family serves in a church that has somewhere in the neighborhood of 30,000 weekly attenders.
I know. It’s kind of mind blowing. That’s really a lot of people. We get it. Trust me. You try parking in that parking lot. Actually, we don’t park that many people in one place at one time. But still, parking is a challenge. Everything is a challenge with a church the size of ours. We love it. It’s nuts.
But does anyone think that any pastor of any church anywhere ever says he wants to pastor a church of that size when he starts out? Let me tell you. NO. He doesn’t. Of course, all pastors want a “good” number of people to show up. They want to “grow” a church to a number that is representative of the work the Lord is doing in the hearts and lives of those close by. But what happens when the work the Lord is doing is really big? Like REALLY big?
I can assure you it is not the pastor’s plan, so it MUST be God’s!
What happens when you follow the Lord’s leadership, humble yourself to His plan, risk it all for the glory of the King, and the people come? And they keep coming… and coming… and coming? And they come to the point that you can no longer comfortably, or uncomfortably, fit them all? At what point does a church decide to turn people away?
How would you like to be on THAT ministry team?
“I’m sorry ma’am, sir, but we just don’t have room for you in our church. Here’s a directory of other churches in town that still have room.”
That’s not what you do when you pray and ask the Lord to send the people to you, and He actually does. Nope. You figure it out.
I understand the suspicions surrounding larger churches. People doubt the sincerity of the leadership. It’s all about money or numbers. It has to be. There’s no way God could be doing something this big. No. Way. How insulting that must be to a God who made the infinite universe.
Large churches suffer the same failures that small churches do. Have there been leaders in mega churches that went astray morally or theologically? Absolutely. Just like there have been leaders in all sizes of churches who have gone astray. God will not be mocked for long, no matter what the size of the church. Pastors and teachers of the gospel are held to a higher standard than the rest of us. Their actions will be theirs to account for one day.
The larger your flock, the higher the accountability. Do you think anyone signs up for that?
Critics of really large churches might forget about Pentecost. Remember when the Bible says 3,000 people were saved in one day? God is quite famous for doing big things, and he is always on the alert, looking for people who are totally devoted to Him. It is through those people that He can accomplish great things.
Churches of all sizes have value. One might “prefer” a smaller one with not so many pesky people, but we should go where God calls us. It is completely out of line to say that it is not God’s plan for churches to be so big. What if that’s wrong and it is in His plan? Saying that something is not of God when it is, in my mind, is akin to blasphemy.
I’m up to my eyeballs in the humongous church where I serve and my husband and son are on staff. It’s as authentic a place to serve God as I have ever seen. I have better, closer, stronger relationships in this place than I have had in lots of other places that were much smaller. I have grown more spiritually in the last five years since coming to this place than I had the previous forty-five, and I’m not the only one.
Just ask the other 29,999 folks with whom I go to church.