Small or Large: Which church is better?
Did you think of Burger King or McDonald’s when you first read the title? Because that is what you hear in a fast food restaurant. However, maybe a better question would be the following: Why are we lowering our worship and communication with God down to a fast food phrase? “Would you like a large congregation to go with that praise?”
To be honest, my belief is that we should not even think on such a level about churches. However, since some do, here we go…Let’s view small churches first!
WARNING: I am only talking about the nature of most small and large churches, and not the qualities of the churches. Every church is unique!
Small churches are intimate by nature. Everyone knows everyone. The church family is very much like a biological family! In fact, in many small churches one or two biological families dominate the church population. The closeness breeds intense emotions: love, trust, and friendship, yet also hatred, distrust, and envy. There is always plenty of work to be done, and predominantly, all are welcome to work. Holidays and family tragedies hit small churches especially hard. Many people visit family members on holidays and tragedies, and this leaves a noticeable gap in attendance. Small churches may or may not have inspiring worship services. Why? Our society cultivates a spirit of following, not leading.
EXPLANATION: I am not talking about things of the world. Many causes coax us into leading when talking about doing the wrong thing. Think about commercials. They are designed to make you want to follow. Consider these commercials:
The first commercial is telling us that we should not share so much, except when it makes a company wealthier. That is a disastrous lesson, and untrue. The second commercial is saying it is alright for a child to disrespect, insult, hurt, or tell an adult what to do; it is even cute. I have no words... Now, consider this commercial:
This commercial applauds the disobedience of children. It encourages children to make snide remarks to their parents. It even screams it is OK for parents to bribe their children to get basic, helpful actions completed, and ridiculously instructs parents to uphold their children in the wrong. Think about it! The children did not help, but they got the reward, and the parent cheered. This commericial is definitely sending all the wrong messages. Imagine the people who actually follow these ideals. Yikes!
No, our society cultivates a spirit of following, following the wrong. I have heard many people say they refuse to conform; not realizing that nonconformance is the norm today. So, by not conforming you are conforming! However, small churches need brave individuals who are not afraid to start a new program by themselves, or sing a song by themselves, or give God all the praise even though only a few are gathered. I am glad God inspired Matthew 18:19-20 (NIV) “Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” God knew that sometimes there would only be a few gathered to follow Him. He's alright with that! However, that is the reason that some small churches may not have inspiring worship services. If everyone is waiting on someone to begin...nothing will start.
Large churches are next! Large churches are not intimate. However, it is this very fact that some prefer. Everyone is not aware of your comings and goings. Now, many large churches break up into groups to serve. This is supposed to give those who want closeness, a group within the church to bond and serve. Because there is that sense of anonymity, intense emotions are not really present. There is also plenty of work to be done, and predominantly, all are welcome to work. However, if you are not there, there are many to replace you. Holidays and tragedies are barely felt. I know it is all about perceptions; however, I listened as a pastor of a 5,000 plus congregation chastize his flock about attendance, "Only a little over 3,000 members came last Sunday, and about 2,500 the Sunday before that. If you love this church, then come to it; or I will not be your pastor for much longer." Small churches have 300, 200 or less. Therefore, as I said before, even though many people visit family members on holidays, this will not affect large churches with a significant gap in attendance. Large churches usually have inspiring worship services. Why? Our society cultivates a spirit of following, not leading. It is easier to do anything when you are not alone. Since, you have so many praising and worshipping, it is less frightening to engage in a program, sing a song, or dance for the king.
Yes, these are slight generalizations. Yet, they are a pretty accurate account of what takes place in small and large churches.
An answer to the question, Small or Large Church: Which is Better? Both have their pros and cons; both are excellent and not so excellent. So, the answer? BOTH. Small churches are better for some individuals, and large churches are better for other individuals. Some people want the church family experience, the close relationships with pastor, officials, and members. Some do not. Some are shy and therefore need a crowd to encourage them to give God their best; still, some are shy and are comforted by personal, intimate attention.
That is the great part about our free exercise of religion. Everyone should get with a group that spiritually feeds them... a group that allows and encourages them to get to know the Master for themselves...a group that is working to build the Kingdom of God. Whether one attends a particular church or not must not be reduced to something so inconsequential as size.
This is one perspective. What's yours?