When I started my ministry, I would take Monday as my day off. There were Mondays when I would be exhilarated over what happened at the church. There were other Mondays when I would be exhausted, and sometimes slightly depressed, because things were not going as well as I thought they should have gone. On one of those particular Mondays I went to the mall to do some shopping. I went into a men’s clothing store, and for the first and the last time in my life I came out having purchased two expensive suits. I needed one suit, not two; and even the one that I needed to purchase did not need to be so expensive. The salesman worked my exhaustion to his favor by convincing me that I really needed those two suits to cheer me up.
This past Sunday, on the front page of Asbury Park Press the main article was about the future of the non-denominational church. Everything but the last sentence was declaring that the non-denominational mega church is the answer to the religious world. Then a relative came to visit and brought another article detailing how a pastor who had one mega church in this particular part of New Jersey was moving into another area to start another mega church.
In our immediate area, there are no mega churches and even those that are non-denominational are in fact affiliated with other churches. Most of us pastor small churches in this area. What surprised me was that after reading these two articles, I felt OK. In fact, I rejoiced that such developments do take place in our county and in our state.
What caused this drastic change? The first had to do with a verse from Paul’s writing to the Philippians (1:18). He tells the church that he rejoices whenever he hears that the Gospel is preached. I rejoice with storefront churches, small size churches, large churches and mega churches. I am fully convinced that the diversity in styles and approaches is important because the body of Christ is diverse. There are preachers who are more scholarly that me and less scholarly than me. There are preachers more passionate and less passionate than me. There are preachers for whom preaching 30 minutes every Sunday is a stretch and there are preachers who in 30 minutes have barely presented the introduction to their sermons.
The church at which I serve can provide closeness, first name basis recognition and guarantee that in a couple of weeks, we will call you to do something in the church. We are willing to experiment with new things, but not in a drastic ways. We are willing to move in a new direction in ten steps, but are not willing to take a long jump. We are community oriented, but we are also globally minded and we know that the Kingdom of God encompasses all the churches that exist in the world.
What the small, medium, large and mega churches needs to do is evangelize so that new people will come into the Kingdom of God. People leave smaller churches because they want a different style of preaching. There are many differences between small and mega churches, but in each place we are asked to worship the same God. The danger for the small church and mega churches is the same – to expect members to come from other churches because of the programs that they are presenting. Instead, we must expect that the preaching of the Gospel under the power and direction of the Holy Spirit will bring new people into the Kingdom of God.