mardi 18 novembre 2003

Large vs. small

This is a comment I posted on Kim's blog new rags: the wonder of the gospel of grace: (*this is broken up into paragraphs for an easier read; I should have done that originally, sorry Kim!)

"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 neighbours, 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?"

I feel very strongly about the work of the large churches in God's kingdom, so this comment will double as a post!
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[Listening to: Fisherman Song - Boxtree - Sitting Still (03:55)]

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