This past month I have been blessed to step back and reflect, recharge, study and even experience several other churches. It was after visiting those churches that I stopped and reflected on how Sunday morning across this country comes with a vast array of worship styles and teaching.
After attending those churches I suspect that the attenders and leadership of those churches have a vast variance in their beliefs as to what is important in a church.
Each was very different and that included the size of those churches. The first church had about 75 people on that Sunday morning, the next was somewhere in the 5,000 attendance range for the weekend services, the third was at about the 150 mark for attenders and the fourth was in the neighborhood of around 8,000-plus with at least six different church campuses and using video to stream the message to multiple locations. Let me share some observations as I reflect on those experiences:
- Each met for the same purpose of gathering as a church to worship the God that loves us profoundly. Just the emphasis on worship and the word brings deep unity and purpose no matter what the size of the gathering.
- Size had little to do with whether the church was friendly and welcoming. I suspect that we could have tried to avoid people in every setting if we wanted to by quickly sitting down and looking at our cell phones until the service began. So, I realized again that there was a burden on me as a “new person” to be willing to be approached, a willingness to make eye contact with people who were looking to care for us as visitors.
- One interesting observation was that the oldest church was the smallest church and the youngest church was the church of almost 9,000. But a fact existed that the largest church wasn’t in any way trying to “tickle the ears” of those younger adults to attract a crowd. There were no smoke machines and it was clear that Jesus was important and they were looking to stir their people to reach out in the name of Jesus.
- Every church had another piece in common, all the pastors worked hard to bring the scriptures to life and apply them to the lives of those who attended, with the goal of moving people toward Jesus. Every church cared deeply about scripture which was encouraging to me as that is not universally true in every church today.
- The truth – God uses all shapes and sizes of churches! The smallest church had a baptismal service and it was evident that God was using those people to move people toward Jesus. Those that gathered watched as a young girl (about 15) and an older lady (around 60) testified to God working in their lives and wanting to be obedient in baptism. It was in the largest church that I was most moved to sing to the Lord with the worship music. But both were real and God was moving.
- The last observation and a conclusion from listening to the sermons and attending the gatherings – all churches must be intentional in trying to bring people to Jesus and His Church. A recent blog I read pointed out the real fact that the majority of churches are in decline and headed toward irrelevance. To avoid spiritual irrelevance, it takes an intentional effort by the church to “turn outward” and be intentional to bring Jesus to the people and even bring people to Jesus’ Church. My belief is that every church I visited wanted to be effective and wanted people to be a part of their church, but it was the largest church that had the most passion and commitment to engage their community and give them Jesus. That is a lesson to be learned for us as a church as we look to walk with others to meet our Jesus.
So, yes God uses every shape and size for His Kingdom, but somewhere in there it is also true that some churches are more passionate in wanting to be giving their lives away for the sake of Jesus. My prayer is that we would have that same passion as a church, a passion to walk with people toward Jesus. Would you help us become that kind of a church and join with us on the journey to become a disciple maker that looks to be intentional about walking with others toward Jesus?
Looking forward to being back with the church family!