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One Assembly Pt IIJune 15, 2021
One Assembly II
A friend and brother was riding with me as we made our way back from a
recent men’s retreat. It had been a good weekend. We stopped for fuel at a
quaint little convenient store in what used to be a nothing place in nowhere land.
But this little once wide open country location is being overwhelmed with growth.
Business is booming and people from the surrounding area are moving in. I was
thinking of that reality as I got back in my truck and started toward home. I
topped a hill and as I started down the other side I saw signs prominently placed
in the median. What are those I wondered? As I got closer, I realized that they
were from a mega-church in a nearby city that had now opened a satellite site in
this now booming area. I became immediately frustrated and aggravated. No,
that is not right: I got mad.
I immediately thought of three friends faithfully serving churches within
less than ten miles from where these signs were located. They are excited about
the growth in the area as any pastor would be. This kind of growth has not come
to this area in years, if ever. These faithful men of God serve smaller churches not
because they do not desire growth but because there has been no growth in the
area until now. They do not have the resources of the mega-churches in terms of
money or men/women. They do not have the “advertising budget” as do these
larger churches. They simply want to be faithful in preaching the Gospel, seeing
God save sinners, see them grow as followers of Jesus and bring others to Jesus
and to the church. Opportunity has come their way, and now they have to
“compete” with the mega-churches. What do you think? Why did not any leader
in the churches (and there is more than one) planting satellites in these places not
stop and think something like this, “there are good strong churches already here.
Let’s see how we can come alongside them and help them reach with the Gospel
the people that are moving into this area.” Could it be that we do not think this
way because we really do believe bigger is better? Could it be a matter of pride?
Could it be that some of the folks moving into this area of growth moved from the
area in which the mega-church is located and the pastor and staff of the church
just do not want to lose them from the count?
Here is the bigger question for me: can a local church get too big, and
when is that? Think about it. If a church consists of people who have come to
faith in Jesus and are learning as they live together in a church how to be faithful
to Jesus, a vital part of which is to see other people brought to Jesus, then at what
point does a church just get to the size that she births another church, a church
plant? If a church is a community of faith consisting of brothers and sisters, are
we too big when I can meet someone at Lowe’s and discover that we are
members of the same church and both attend almost weekly, but because we
attend different services or sites, we would have never known each other outside
this brief encounter at Lowe’s? Are we really beyond what a church is biblically
when we can gather in the same location even with so many present that we only
know a handful of people?
I struggle with these issues. I know really godly men who have led faithfully
the people of God for years in and through mega-churches. I know men who love
Jesus and the church who believe in satellite churches and multiple worship
services. My struggle is not with these men. My struggle is with what I
increasingly in my latter days of ministry in the church see about what the Bible
says a church is. And what I see and hear in Scripture is not reflected much in
what we call truly successful churches in our day. Last question for this second
reflection: can a church be successful and not really be biblically faithful to what
Scripture says a church is to be?