Since the ‘80s there are over 20,000 mega churches across the United States. Financial troubles forced Rick Warren to send a desperate plea for money to his Saddleback congregation. A Kansas City mega church just lost their $20 million campus to the bank. One of the country’s first mega churches, the Crystal Cathedral, filed for bankruptcy—and these stories are becoming more and more common.
In practically every gathering of ministries, there is a subject that comes up: church growth. “How do we get people to come to church?” We have answered that question with a thousand books, and yet by and large we are losing the battle for souls. Most pastors in their quest to grow their churches become more like chairmen of the board, doing everything themselves to make sure it’s done right. But leadership must grow from within the neighborhood. It cannot be imported from another area because no two areas are alike. Copying another leader’s strategy is like gluing fruit from one tree onto another tree and saying, “Look what I have done.”
Small churches celebrate diversity. Small churches don’t ask “what programs can we create for single mothers,” but rather, “what do we do for Sara? She’s raising her kids all by herself. The solution to each local issue is not a program, but a relationship—free to grow without artificial means. The task given to the smaller Christian community is not to achieve success (in size) but simply to be faithful within their particular context.
Faithfulness is about organizing our common life together in such a way that we image God to all creation and experience peace. We need churches that are content to grow more maturely (spiritually) and not necessarily just be bigger. Because when it comes to church, bigger is not better. There is a point at which bigger inevitably becomes unsustainable and unhealthy.
Whether you are in a small church or a mega church, the question you should ask yourself is: “Has Jesus come into your life? Has Jesus come and changed who you are and how you live? Unless Jesus lives in your heart, you can come to church every Sunday the rest of your life and leave no different than you came.
My weekly prayer is for the reader of this commentary to become spiritually inspired of God. Contact Expressions of Faith at P.O. Box 330127, Nashville, Tenn. 37203; or e-mail <email@example.com>. God bless!