I Love BIG Churches Part 3
7 Myths about BIG Churches
BIG Churches really don’t need defended. So, why am I sharing this series of posts? Again, it is simply to help those who may be suffering from “BIG Church Bitterness” get past it and move on to fulfilling God’s unique call on their lives and ministries. Are some of the criticisms about “BIG Churches” warranted? Yes. However, I have found these to be the exception and not the rule. Only God truly knows the heart. Until then…
Consider these 7 Myths About BIG Churches.
1. “They don’t preach the Word.” By what metric do you base that on? How many of their sermons or teaching series have you personally engaged in? Could they simply have a different style than some of of us? Perhaps. To be honest, many pastors of larger congregations are simply better communicators. They have a leadership team and a strategy that allows, equips and insists on this. However, this doesn’t make them more or less true to God’s Word. I have sat under and followed closely BIG and even MEGA church pastors who preach expository while others preach topical. What most have in common is a love for the Word and real world application. Some insist, “They tell too many stories.” Do they? Maybe. Then, again, didn’t Jesus often communicate through story, parable and object lessons?
2. “Their worship is shallow.” I hear this one the most. “It’s too ‘showy’.” I wonder… is it ok for exceptionally gifted people to use their gifts for God’s glory? Can people who are professionally trained in music, staging, lights, sound & other forms of media serve the Lord and offer their gifts with a pure heart, or are they somehow unqualified due to too much experience? Sure, if a worship set somehow fails to even mention any member of the Trinity, there’s a problem. Just one more question… can we make too big a deal out of the biggest deal in the world? Should a “professional” level of investment only be reserved for the secular gatherings the majority of us often enjoy outside the church worship context? (concerts, movies, college & professional sports, fishing tournaments, NASCAR… just to name a few)
3. “Their people are only attenders.” Some probably are. Then again, having pastored churches from 9-900, I would suggest the percentages aren’t that different. “Pew sitting” can be just as prevalent among small churches as large. I have witnessed many in small churches who are too quick to give people credit by merely showing up. Choosing not to do anything but show up is a personal choice, regardless of context. One could argue that larger churches offer even more opportunity to be invested in serving Christ and the community.
4. “They steal most of their people from other churches.” This one might be my favorite. There are likely an exception or two out there. However, trust me on this one, few large church lead teams spend their days strategizing on how to gain more members from smaller congregations. They don’t have to. They are too busy strategizing and implementing the Great Commission. It’s true, people do leave smaller churches and join them in their vision. The question is, “Why?” Could it be because many Christ followers want to be where people are actively passionate about reaching the lost, making disciples and transforming a community? “BIG Churches” often do this with a high level of excellence… and things like passion and excellence are very attractive and contagious to most people (saved or unsaved). God set it up this way… excellence and passion attracts, mediocrity and routine simply don’t.
5. “People are lost in the crowd.” True… but only if they want to be. Practically speaking we can only do life with a limited number of people, a small group, if you will. This holds true whether the larger group is 100 or 10,000. Could it be that there are even more ways and opportunities to be truly connected with others at larger churches? Maybe. Suffice it to say that we can choose to be connected or not regardless of the size of the greater group we worship with. The choice is ours. “But I feel like I’m not connected.” This is possible and, yes, easier in larger contexts. However, small or large, it’s hard to feel this way if you are plugged into a small group and actively serving with others. Most churches of any size offer these opportunities… and big churches offer all the more.
6. “Their leaders are all about the money.” True, they often talk more, promote more, preach and teach more about money. Then again, God’s Word addresses money and stewardship more than subjects like faith and grace combined. Could it be that they talk about money more because it takes more to serve the amount of people they are impacting? And, it’s true, BIG Church leaders almost always make more money. This brings with it the temptations that more money brings to every Christ follower. However, in my experience, few talk about how much they and their families give, invest and sacrifice on behalf of the Kingdom, least of all them. Rest assured, they will answer for their stewardship just like you.
7. “Their leaders are power hungry. “ Again, this is a ready temptation for any top-level leader. Still, it may be just as easy to be the “king” of a smaller church mini-kingdom among a smaller demographic… perhaps easier? Large church leaders often have far less hands-on management of the overall ministry than small/medium sized church leaders. This is by necessity. They more often have a high level of trust and investment in the leaders they lead who in turn lead others who then lead the members of the congregation. Some insist, “Yeah, but they aren’t real pastors, true shepherds of the flock.” I would submit that they are. They simply pastor a difference flock, namely, the staff and leadership flock. These sub-groups often comprise a group as large or larger than those of entire small congregations.
These are just a few of the BIG Church myths we could address. Whatever you do, don’t buy into them. Determine to be too busy fulfilling the Great Commission as a lead team to dwell on what others are or are not doing.