Does Size Matter?
I suppose the debates and arguments over the pros and cons of congregation size will continue even after the church has been raptured (yeah, I believe in that). But if you want to know; I have a few comments about size.
I like big churches – to a degree.
I like small churches – to a degree.
I think the perfect size church is one in which…
- the congregation still has some access to the pastor without having to make appointments months in advance, or have to be cavity-searched before getting withing 50 feet of his office.
- the choir is capable of glorifying God and leading the congregation in worship, but not so big or independent that it has it’s own group health plan, publicist, or copyright on robe color.
- the annual Christmas play can include all the children who want to participate, as long as there is a spot or role to play, without having to spend more than the gross national product of Denmark during production.
- there is a sense of community and fellowship that is possible without having to marry one of the other members.
- the congregation is capable of meeting needs within their community, but not by rezoning a community out of existence.
Churches come in all shapes and sizes, for sure. Most have fewer than 200 members. A few do great works through global outreach. Whatever the size, God can use a congregation that depends on Him and remembers its “first Love.” We should never think negatively about a church because of their size; but we do.
One way in which legalism is expressed within the church is through the judging of congregation size. Now, you may think this does not go on, but stop and do a reality check. What is the first thing most people associate with a growing church? Simple – numbers.
The next time you drive down the road and see a large church with staff directing traffic into overflow lots; the next time you hear of a church with multiple services; the next time you see an additional annex or satellite campus, stop and ask yourself, “Is this church more right with God than the little church out in the county with 20 members?” If your thoughts are even close to “yes,” then you are being legalistic.
Now, what about that huge church with 20 pastors and a choir of 200, or the one with a praise band that has won four Grammy’s? Look at all that fancy furniture and sound equipment – do realize for what all that cost 10 families could have been fed for a year? Surely God does not get glory from all the money and effort put into that mega-monstocity! Is that how you think? You’re being legalistic.
Don’t be so quick to judge what God may be using for His purposes, even though we can’t see how He’s doing it. Focus on your own field of ministry. Are you doing all God has called you to do? Are you bringing Him glory? Are you seeking the lost and reaching out to the needy and hurting? If you are, then size doesn’t matter.
On the other hand, do you have a “form of godliness,” but are “denying the power thereof?” No amount of members could change the fact that God is not pleased. Criticizing another congregation only exposes the legalism within and further offends the very Power you deny.
Remember – Legalism isn’t limited to lists of do’s and don’ts.
And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all [things] he might have the preeminence. – Col 1:18 KJV