This is a crucial question of our age. Ironically here in America, the more mega churches we have, the less percentage of the population actively call themselves Christian. And yes there are many reasons behind that trend of why we are failing to produce new disciples. One of the key points that you will here me stress is that God moves when we are actively involved. There is no such thing as passive Christianity.
While social media such as this blog enables my posts to go out world wide instantaneously it is NOT the same as attending church or making disciples. It is proclaiming the good news but disciples are made by 1:1 interaction. People love mega churches as they represent the familiar, rock concerts, and you can sneak in and out with complete anonymity. People are happy to not have the “in your business” interacting that results from smaller churches. But I would contend that it is that harsh “in your business” familiarity that you experience in small churches that produces growth. One must learn to think as to how your actions will directly impact or be perceived by people who actually know you.
- Proverbs 27:17 NASB – 17 Iron sharpens iron, So one man sharpens another.
(Tough I have never witnessed iron scraping against iron the old illustration that gets passed around is that sparks fly.)
So the great debate is, “Which produces more disciples (active involvement) small churches or large churches?” Consider the following:
In a 5000 member church you will have maybe 3 preach over various services with a worship team of 15 -25 people and a church board of elders/leaders of about 12.
Now instead of having 1 church with 5000 members you have 100 churches of 50 members. Now you have 50 people preaching on a Sunday. Maybe the average worship team is 5 people so now you have 250 people leading worship, and ironically you still have a 10-12 member board so you now have 1200 people serving in a decision leadership capacity? The smaller the church, the more involved the congregation, the more involved the congregation is what makes disciples.
I pastored a very small church country church for a while of about 25 people. When they did their summer out reach to youth traditionally known as Vacation Bible School. All 25 contributed in some way as at least 50 kids would participate . . . 200% out reach. When was the last time you heard of a 5,000 member church having 10,000 youth show up with all 5000 members participating?
Or again, they would also have a annual wild game dinner for all those hunters out there. Again, all 25 participated and they fed and preached to 250 sportsman . . . 1000% out reach. When was the last time you saw a mega church of 5000 feed 25,000 people with all 5000 members actively participating?
And as for Salvations, annually on average we would see about 5 people come to salvation though they may not have stayed in the area – again that still came to 20%. A small church may not produce large one time numbers but their impact is huge based upon size.
The unspoken theology is that God is only in the huge numbers. I have heard “church growth experts” refer to small churches as “defective.” But what did Jesus say?
- Matthew 18:20 NASB – 20 “For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.”