Do You Love a Big Church?

I found an article recently that piqued my interest, and that (frankly) I would have emphatically agreed with if I was still a part of the “mega church” movement.  

The article is entitled “Seven Reasons Why I Love a Big Church”. It was originally authored by Southeast Christian church of Louisville, KY., but it can be found on the website of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church – Eddie Long’s suburban Atlanta mega church. 

I don’t really consider myself “anti mega church”, per se. I believe that the Spirit of God moves anywhere that His Word is taught in truth – period – whether it’s a living room, a storefront church, or a 40,000 seat arena. Generally, however, most folks who attend mega churches seem to think that God only speaks in their mega church – not the living rooms or storefronts out there – thereby creating a pseudo kingdom.  I know this firsthand because I attended Club New Birth (as it’s affectionately called here in the ATL) for 5 years, and one of its spin-off churches for 6 years. In fact, I served in ordained ministry for several years – and I’ve seen this pride and arrogance up close (as a side note, see what I’ve written previously about the spirit of pride).  

Anyway, the article itself is fairly innocuous at first glance – but of course my job is to take a closer look to see how it stacks up against God’s truth (see my emphasis and comments in red):

Seven Reasons Why I Love a Big Church – About New Birth…

New Birth Missionary Baptist Church has become a large church.While we rejoice over the way the Lord has blessed this congregation, some who are not familiar with a large church are intimidated by it.

There is a misconception that a big church is cold and formal or will neglect its people and compromise its principles. (Misconception? There are countless incidents of twisting scripture to solicit money from members, pastoral care neglect, lack of benevolence, unwillingness to “open the books” so that members are aware of where their money goes, intimidation, coercion, etc.).

There are dangers that are unique to a large congregation, just as there are to a small one, but there are also many advantages about a big church that make it special.

  • A large church provides an excellent opportunity for evangelism. It is much easier to invite others to come to church with you if the church is large. (Huh? Whether it’s easy or not, we’re compelled to reach the lost – and not necessarily bring them to church to meet God, we can introduce them to Christ long before we get to a church building). There are many special services and quality programs that provide opportunities for Christian to invite friends and family members. Also, the unchurched are often more likely to attend since they do not feel threatened in a large group. Soon they begin to feel comfortable and the truths of the gospel sink in. (The unchurched won’t feel threatened in a large group? How about the unchurched feeling threatened at the prospect of spending eternity in hell if they don’t accept Jesus Christ? Again, while or goal isn’t to ostracize or alienate the unchurched, we can never compromise the intent of the Gospel just so they “feel less threatened”). 

 

  • A large church provides many opportunities for service. (Correct, but still, roughly 20% of a large congregation’s members are responsible for 80% of the work of the ministry – and I know this firsthand. The size of the church doesn’t matter when it comes to finding willing workers). Some people assume they are not needed in a larger body. That’s far from the truth. The large church has more opportunities to serve that in a small church because there are more positions to fill. For example, it takes nearly 2,000 volunteers to provide the best worship and study experience for our children’s department alone! Whatever God has gifted you to do, there will be an opportunity for your talents to be used in building up the Body of Christ. (While large churches can offer more opportunities to serve, they’re also ripe for promoting servants who’ll tow the “company line” – vs. workers who submit their gifts for God’s work. We should work as unto God, so it doesn’t matter if you work in a large or small ministry – 1 Corinthians 15:58).

  • A large church is inspirational. Most of us enjoy going to athletic contests when there is a “packed house.” There’s something about a large number of people that creates excitement and generates energy. Jesus said He wanted His house to be full (Luke 14:23). It’s inspirational to sing and share with thousands of Christians. It’s thrilling to hear a large choir or to enjoy an excellent drama. (So, a small church can’t be exciting? God won’t move unless we “pack the house”? Got it. Also, Luke 14:23 is referenced, but if you explore the scripture in context – verses 16-23 –, you’ll see that Jesus was telling the parable of the prepared feast. He was speaking of the invitation for salvation that went out to the Jews, but when they rejected, the invitation went out to the Gentiles – or anyone else who was willing to accept Him as their Savior. So, He wasn’t trying to “pack His party” for the sake of filling the house). 

 

  • A large church has a positive influence. There is strength in numbers. One church of several thousand has an opportunity to witness to and influence in missions and world outreach. Our size enables us to provide meaningful support ministries to those who need special attention. (Again, the job of the church is to reach the lost, and that can be done only through the Power of God. More often than not, large churches use their “strength in numbers” to intimidate their critics, curry favor with local or national politicians, or simply “show off”. Besides, God said that He’d be there even if only two people showed up –

  • A large church prepares us for heaven! In Revelation 7:9 (NIV), the Apostle John described his vision of heaven, “…I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne…wearing white robes…”(Ah yes – the old “there’ll be a lot of people in heaven, so you may as well get used to it” argument. Well, truth be told, accepting Jesus Christ as your Savior prepares us for heaven, not attending a large church – John 14:6. God doesn’t want anyone to perish – Matthew 19:10-14 – so He’d like to see heaven full, but I don’t think He really cares if the local mega church is full to the rafters, especially if they’re more concerned about filling seats than fulfilling His mission).

 

  • The large church has been used of God to evangelize the lost, edify the saved, minister to those in need and be a conscience in the community. We invite you to join us as we seek to glorify God’s name in a big way.

Take a look at the last line in the paragraph above:

…join us as we seek to glorify God’s name in a big way

That says it all – most mega churches seek to be seen as a charismatic movement that “glorifies” God in a “big way” with opulent worship facilities, talented praise leaders and glorious choirs, and a well dressed man of God who inspires them with an eloquently delivered “sermon”. Matthew tells us that “we will know them by their fruit” (Matthew 7:14-17). Good fruit doesn’t necessarily mean a parking lot full of Mercedes Benz’s – it could actually be the sharing of God’s love to the nations – and the liberating message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Check the fruit of your church – mega or otherwise – to determine if God is truly glorified.

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4 Responses to “Do You Love a Big Church?”


  1. 1 Kwesi February 27, 2008 at 3:25 pm

    I am not anti mega church either. I am anti show and greed and I just believe in the church we often miss the point. I believe that discipleship requires intimacy and transparency. Beyond that, I believe that if you read Matthew you’ll clearly see that Jesus climbed a hill to get rid of the crowd. I believe that mega churches are crowded. As I say in my article on mega churches, the crowd wants blessing and benefits now. Disciples are about advancing the kingdom of God now.

  2. 2 Speaking Truth February 27, 2008 at 3:32 pm

    Excellent synopisis – “disciples are about advancing the Kingdom of God now”.

    Let’s keep yelling it from the rooftop, my brother!

  3. 3 Rick T February 29, 2008 at 4:43 pm

    Amen brother! Now if you could only forward this to the hundreds of thousands in Decatur, GA alone, serious ground could be covered for the Kingdom. Then we’ll take it to Roswell and Alpharetta, to Douglasville and Fayetteville, then College Park and East Point yeeaaghh!

  4. 4 Speaking Truth February 29, 2008 at 4:49 pm

    Trust me – they know…

    Do I detect a bit of Howard Dean’s famous scream there?

    Be blessed!
    ST


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