Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Size Matters

Some churches erroneously believe that the proof of the quality of their church is reflected in their low attendance. The reasoning goes like this; the smaller the church, the more spiritual it is. That is, "We want quality people, not a quantity of people." The assumption is if a church is attracting lots of people, it must be shallow and lacking commitment.

Jesus attracted large crowds and He never compromised the truth. Peter preached an uncompromising word and converted 3000 people with his first sermon! The apostle Paul had followers all over Asia and he never watered it down. The reason they had so many followers (yes, large crowds) is because the gospel is GOOD NEWS, not bad news.

In fact, the only people who ever accused Jesus of watering it down were the jealous priests who criticized Him out of envy. I suspect the same ministerial jealously motivates some people today to criticize growing churches that attract large crowds.

In any church where lives are being changed, marriages are being put back together, and people are being liberated from life-controlling habits, you’ll have to turn people away if you want to remain small. People are attracted to places where there is quality preaching, quality music, quality programming, quality worship services and real life-change. People will turn out in droves to a church like that. On the other hand, why would God send a group of prospects to a church that doesn’t know what to do with them? In most instances, He doesn’t.

Having spent a great deal of time in smaller churches myself, I have observed that one reason churches remain small is because of a LACK of quality. There is little quality in the music, in the singing, in the nursery care, the children’s ministry, the preaching, and in its discipleship training.

On the other hand, the bigger a church gets the more the quality improves. You get better preaching, better teaching (from a variety of teachers), you have better music, better singing, worship, age-level ministries, small groups, discipleship training – all of it. In a growing church more people commit to Christ, are baptized, grow in discipleship, and volunteer for ministry service.

Any church that has no interest in increasing its numbers (under the misguided assumption that it is more spiritual to remain small) is saying to the rest of the world, “We’re saved, but you can go to hell.”

The MOST UNSELFISH thing a church can do is to DECIDE TO GROW.