A mega-church looms just down the road—I pass it almost everyday. Criticism (which we of “smaller” churches tend to engage in quite freely) has humbly given way to prayer for that church when I discovered the pastor there admonishes his congregation to pray for the smaller churches, that they would grow.
People are being saved there, and many are serving. To be sure, some have shifted church affiliation—but don’t completely discount the good things happening. They have prayer meetings, small groups, the Lord’s Supper. I know personally some who are growing spiritually there. Thousands of people sitting under the preaching of the Word is a good thing!
So what do I make of it all—I who embrace biblical teaching of elder plurality, believer priests, gift development, and the family nature of the local church? Can the mega-church do things better? Yes! Here are my suggestions:
1. Develop/expand small group (SG) ministry. People need community, it doesn’t happen in a huge crowd. Goal: everyone committed to a small group.
2. Train SG leaders using, for example, Alex Strauch’s book Biblical Eldership. Godly elders are needed for these SGs.
3. Equip Christians in spiritual gifts.
4. Embrace the Lord’s Supper and prayer in SGs where more people can participate actively in a family style worship.
5. Remove geographical boundaries—allow the Holy Spirit to spread the SGs to other cities and countries.
6. Practice distributed leadership. Empower the SG leaders to exercise authority under leading of the Holy Spirit.
7. Encourage autonomy/independence with SGs observing the Lord’s Supper and Sunday services on their own. Commit them to the Lord and the word of His grace (Acts 20:32). In other words, hive off the SGs that mature and begin functioning as independent, local churches on their own.
8. Foster inter-dependence through shared ministries, mission agencies, and regional conferences— which encourages unity and leverages resources.
Yes, these suggestions would improve the ministry of the mega-church down the road. Doesn’t this sound familiar—like the mega-church that began in Jerusalem with three thousand people and grew through the proliferation of the message and the seeding of SGs all over the globe? Yes, the body of Christ is the original, mega-church, and we who believe are all members of it.
Side application: never think that you are in “just a “small assembly or church.” You are part of God’s mega-church!