My friend attends a church that has four services and several thousand members. He recently got divorced and is trying to put his life back on track. About a couple of weeks ago he received an email from one of the elders on staff. This elder wanted him to come to a meeting and discuss his marital status.
My friend went to this meeting and came away with a profound disappointment. This elder was not interested in anything my friend had to say. He simply stated that “your wife has repented and is ready to reconcile. You should get ready to start counselling and work toward getting back together”.
My friend went on to say that he is open to the idea of reconciliation but he feels like both he and his wife need some time before they can start the process. The elder didn’t want to hear any of that. “That’s just pop-psychology”. “She is ready and if you don’t start you are being selfish”.
My friend asked what would be the benefit of trying to get back together if I know we are going to get back into the same pattern. But if we have a little time to sort things out maybe then we will be on more solid ground before proceeding.
The elder didn’t want to hear anything he had to say. He simply stated that they need to have another meeting next month and meanwhile he is in sin (even though he was not the one that filed for divorce) and is prohibited in involvement at the church. He went on to say consider this your first step of discipline.
Every pastor wishes for their congregation to grow. Many times this is how they evaluate the effectiveness of their ministry. They feel like when they get big enough they will be able to provide more opportunities for their congregation and impact their area.
The question before us is this, does a church lose something when they become a mega church?
Before we go any further we need to point out that people choose what kind of church to attend to for many different reasons. What we are pointing out here is not whether a person should go to a small church or a big church. We simply want to point out that a church may lose something along the way as it becomes a mega church.
When a church gets to big it’s easy for it to become a preaching center.
People can come and go without anybody noticing them. They come to church to hear a good message but after that they could stand around with no one to talk to. It’s usually much harder to establish meaningful relationships in this setting than smaller fellowships.
When a church gets so big it’s easy for it to resemble a corporation rather than a fellowship.
The leadership become the executives and the people become the consumers. The leadership tries to provide opportunities for you to participate in and benefit from. The church becomes a fine tuned machine even though we may not know anyone.
When you go to see your elder it should not be a summon to a court, rather it should be a visit to an individual who knows you and deeply cares for you.
In my friend’s case, his meeting resembled a court summons rather than a visit to someone who cared for him. Ideally in the church our relationship with each other should resemble a brotherhood not a court proceeding.
When there is no relationship between the leadership and the people, it’s easy for the relationship to take on the employer to employee tone.
This elder was not interested in anything my friend had to say. His interaction with my friend resembled more to a boss and employee rather than an elder brother in the Lord. He was only interested in what he had to say and expected a full compliance.
Mark 12:27 “…the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath”.
Anyone who has been involved in ministry will testify that to help people grow spiritually is not easy. Real growth takes time and patience. People don’t become mature overnight. In Mark 12:27 Jesus makes an interesting comment. That the Sabbath was made for man, not man for Sabbath. Our goal should always be conformity to the law of God. The Lord gave his laws for our good. However If we think the instructions are more important than people, then people become dispensable. What becomes paramount is conformity at all costs. If we take this approach we can become cruel and extreme, because after all man is made for Sabbath. But if we understand that instructions were made for us and our well being we can become the right kind of minster. One that realizes human frailty and shortcomings, and the patience and love that is required when people are not able to do what they ought. A wise elder should know how to lead the sheep rather than beating the sheep. It’s easy to beat people when you don’t know them.
These were some of my observations on churches that become so big that their people become disposable. When a church resembles a corporation rather than a place where God’s people come to grow and be nurtured, then we have paid a heavy price to be big.
May the Lord be with you all