The growing church

I wrote this as a response to a girl who commented, “im from a pentecostal church, its cool, theres like 20 peeps… i love it anyway, its going to grow i have the faith”:

I’m totally down with small churches. (I’m part of a house church. don’t ask me “how many people we’ve got” because I’m rather sick of that question) What is to say that having a large number of people meeting together is what God’s will is for your church? More people just makes it more impersonal…..and less of a church experience as far as i can tell. The smaller the group, the more personal it is: the more real you can be with each other, the more you can keep each other accountable in your walk. I think we need to put more of an urgency on the need for ourselves to grow than for the church body to grow. When we grow into more of the person God calls us to be, we become more like Christ, and then people will be drawn to God. Is that not what it’s about? call me crazy, but I don’t think a huge congregation with a huge church building is the ultimate goal that God has in mind when he thinks of a healthy and “successful” church.

59 Responses to “The growing church”

  1. Clay Says:

    Hey Kim, how many people does your house church have? :P hehe…just kidding…Seriously though, Churches need to be getting smaller. You need that accountability and closeness to everyone else in your group that you can only get from a small community.

  2. Neely Says:

    Just a thought, but what about large churches made up of smaller churches? I mean, I agree with the “small is better” concept (Jesus and the 12 disciples) but I personally don’t think that the larger the church is, the less successful it is. I go to a church with more than 4000 people in it, but it is my family because I am plugged in with these small churches inside it. “A huge congregation with a huge church building” can be deeply personal, and true accountability and community can be found within it as well. It shouldn’t be limited to just small churches physically, because large churches (through small groups) can help people grow closer to God just as well.

  3. kimbo Says:

    If you say you find true church in a congregation of 4000 people, then I can’t really be one to refute that. I do think though, that it is hard for people new to church to get plugged in to a group of people that huge. When the only effort to get to know new people is a “communication card” dropped in the offering plate, and a “welcoming committee” at the door to shake your hand and say “welcome” and then move on to the next person without a care about who you are. And, what I see of ministry in churches that huge….places that have so many resources, that could be doing so much kingdom work….and ministry there is considered an inward thing. “fill your ministry quota by volunteering in the nursery” thanks, but no thanks.

  4. Neely Says:

    It may be hard for a person to get connected immediately in a large church, but I think this is probably the case for any new church goer, whether they are going to a smaller congregation or a bigger one. But with a large church, there are more ministries that they can check out to get involved in. (*note: I’m not going for the quantity factor here but rather the diverse ministries that are aimed towards diverse people) For example, if someone is a new believer, there may be a group that is catered specifically towards these people. Or if someone enters the church and is looking for a creative outlet with which to praise God, they may find it in a ministry that welcomes artists and whose main purpose is to express God through art. The point being that with a greater amount of people, the easier it is to create “house churches” within the larger community that are geared towards a certain need for people who are interested in those. Yes, the communication card and welcoming committee can seem static, especially to a newcomer, but it does show that the church is willing to get to know you better despite its size and that they care enough to have greeters ensure that people feel welcome as soon as they come in. As for the point that larger churches are only focused on the inward, that is not always just the only thing they do. Inward focus is necessary in all churches because discipling the believer and helping them grow in their faith is one of the reasons for the church. I think large churches do well with this – by training and equipping its people – which might be why it seems as though this is the sole reason for their existence. It’s not. By growing mature Christians first, they can then go out and impact the world and have this outward focus. The small groups within the large church are capable and prepared to reach out to others, and do it very well because they have the resources at hand to do so and the support of the large church behind them. They in turn go out and do kingdom work as a group or as a small church themselves. These resources are not limited to the congregation but to groups of people who make use of them to touch the lives of people in their communities and beyond. For example, small groups that meet in certain areas of the city can reach out to their neighbors, which in turn could bring these people to Christ, and having them worship with people they already know and are comfortable with in a church setting later on. And about your last point, I don’t think large churches encourage people to volunteer only to fill some ministry quota. The way I see it, large churches need more volunteer help keeping it running and when people step up to help, it is not out of coercion or guilt, but rather through a person’s desire to bless others through practical means. Using your nursery example, anyone who was there for the wrong intentions would obviously have a hard time staying in that ministry. People who give of their time and energy there genuinely want to serve. There is also an outward focus here since they are allowing visitors to the church a safe place to drop off their kids so that they can enjoy the service. Everything works together for His glory and it does not matter where that setting is, whether it is being a nursery volunteer in a large church or entertaining the kids in another room of the house while the others are having their house church meeting.

    I am not against small churches. I fully agree with the “small is better” theory. But I think when you’re limiting your point to only the physically small churches, you lose sight of what the large churches are also able to do when it is made up of all these small groups acting as churches. Large churches have received a great amount of criticism, some deserved and others unfairly. But I do think and know that they also have a big part to play in the body of Christ (and not just because of their size). A huge congregation in a huge building can be a blessing to others in many ways. I hope you take my points as a perspective from “the other side” and that you don’t dismiss the large churches just because of their size. I don’t think God is concerned with large churches versus small churches as long as they are all biblically faithful and committed to carrying out His will for this world. This is exactly the kind of division that needs to be eradicated from the church body if there is to be unity of any kind. Please take what I have written into consideration. Do not invalidate the large church because of its size. Doing so hinders the work of all the small churches within it that are working faithfully for God. And aren’t you advocating that it is the small churches that are healthy and successful churches?

  5. Neely Says:

    P.S. Sorry that was long and cumbersome to look at. If you would like a more broken down response, you can go here to read it on my blog. Oh, and I’m not trying to drive hits to my page either (I know some people do that), I just forgot to break it down more for you – sorry! As well, I hope you don’t take what I have written as an attack on your views or anything. On the contrary, I am quite enjoying this exchange of perspectives. I love reading your blog and I like being challenged by what others write. Blessings!

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