Small Churches Are Not a Bad Thing!

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                          March 16, 2016

                            

Andy Stanley made the news last week as a result of something he said in one of his weekend messages. Since then he has tried to do a rewind of what he really meant, but it is similar to trying to rewrap the toilet paper after it springs loose and rolls down three flights of stairs. You can’t quite get it back to where it was. (I don’t recommend you try it! It won’t turn out good and people will stare at you.)

Andy, who I’ve heard speak several times, and have a lot of admiration and respect for, made a reference to parents being selfish if they keep their teen children at a small church. This came right after a weekend youth conference that was attended by about 3,500 youth from Stanley’s church, and, I’m assuming, other churches.

He didn’t mean to make a dig at small churches, but that’s what was heard. Andy’s church runs around 20,000 each weekend…give or take a few thousand! Obviously, his church is doing a few things right.

His church is the spiritual Walmart that draws customers to the happy faces signs.

Last Sunday I spoke at a church in a small rural town to a gathering of twelve. There are less people in this town than will be seated in Andy Stanley’s overflow room at one weekend service. And yet “The Twelve” allowed me to experience community. After the service instead of a rush to the parking lot to be directed out into traffic by off-duty police officers, at this gathering of the saints we stood in the center aisle for twenty minutes talking and sharing. No one rushed out. They didn’t want to. This was a foundational part of their week.

I read Andy’s interview that was meant to be damage control. Believe me, he’s not totally wrong…and he’s not totally right. Sometimes small churches get set in their ways and become hospice centers for the dying, but other times small churches bring a depth of caring and fellowship that mega-churches should take notes on.

Our culture is drawn to “mass”, to quantity. We overindulge at Chinese buffets and super-size at McDonald’s. On Black Friday we get in line early at the “big box” stores, and we flock to ocean cruise line ships that are like floating cities.

Those things aren’t necessarily bad (except the Chinese buffet part), but they should not be seen as what will meet all of our needs either.

There are places at the Lord’s table for small churches and large churches, and every church in between. This doesn’t need to become a finger-pointing event between the student bodies of two arch rival high schools, shouting across the gym at one another.

On Easter Sunday I’ll be back at that small gathering of God’s people to preach about new life, new hope, and a new day. They will nod their heads in agreement, because they believe that their church is in the midst of the story. Then we will stand in the center aisle and talk about life as it is, and life will is coming.

Explore posts in the same categories: Bible, children, Christianity, Community, Death, Humor, Jesus, love, Pastor, Prayer, Story, Teamwork, The Church, Uncategorized, Youth

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