Some people point to mega-churches as successful because of
their large numbers. Others point to mega-churches as failures, because of
their large numbers. Some say numerical growth is the only mark of
"success" in church-planting. Others say churches should stay small,
to preserve relationships. Who’s right?
Neither, I think. The real issue is deeper and more subtle. We need to be
thinking about the function and purpose of our congregational gatherings. And
before we can talk about that, we have to talk about the kingdom, because the
kingdom gives rise to the church, not the other way around. For this reason,
ultimately the location, size, and style of the meeting don’t matter. What
matters is the kingdom being embodied in a specific cultural context.
Small is not the answer.
Big is not the answer.
More preaching is not the answer.
Less preaching is not the answer.
House churches are not the answer.
Mega-churches are not the answer.
More hymns, fewer hymns, contemporary music, dance music, alternative worship,
traditional worship, jeans, suits, spikey hair – none of it matters all by
What matters is what lies behind our church meetings: is the kingdom being
embodied in a culture?
The church is not a meeting, but it has meetings. The church is a community,
but the church is not simply hanging out with friends. Friendship is great, but
a gathering of friends does not a church make. For churches to be real
churches, there must always remain a focus on Jesus and the kingdom. The church
is the community that God creates through the Holy Spirit through which to
accomplish his mission on Earth.
If the kingdom is being embodied in a community, that will be reflected in the
meetings that community has, however they dress, whatever music they use,
whatever their numbers, whether or not they’re "purpose-driven" or
"seeker-sensitive" or "evangelical" or
"traditional" or "emerging" or "charismatic" or
"Baptist". None of those things matter, ultimately. Some of the
practices of those groups may be better attuned to the kingdom than others, but
the labels mean nothing.
So, to paraphrase Paul (Gal 6:15) – "For neither ‘traditional’ or
‘contemporary’ counts for anything; the only thing that matters is a new