In the west we’ve become so enamored with Church Growth. The allure of the crowd has seduced and defeated many Pastors. We launch outreaches, new initiatives, read books, attend conferences, and seminars all in our quest to build bigger, better, more relevant ministries. Recent statistics suggest that 95% of churches in America are 500 people or less and 75% of churches have active attendance of 200 or less. Now get this 60% of churches have 100 or fewer adults on a weekend service (See Barna Group) We place so much emphasis on the weekend service and growing it, but what if we are approaching it all wrong? Remember Jesus’ words to Peter? “Do you love me? Feed my sheep!” He didn’t say: “Peter, do you love me? Grow a bigger church.” He said feed my sheep. Instead of making the focus on gathering people maybe we should focus on feeding, discipling the sons and daughters who Jesus has entrusted to us.
Let’s look to Jesus to establish our ministry patterns. He could draw a crowd for sure, thousands. He was moved with compassion by their great need. Yet the crowd wasn’t alluring to Him. Jesus had another circle of influence, a mere 70 that He sent out in pairs. He had another group the famous 12 Disciples and finally He had another group, the “inner circle,” Peter, James, and John. On the day of Pentecost we read that only 120 showed up. Three and half years into His “church plant” Jesus could only muster 120 people. Oh but look at the fruit of these 120! Small is the new BIG! Go small and see what He can do. You may never see the full fruit of your ministry. That’s okay Jesus is still waiting for the fullness of His reward! What if you had been Billy Graham or Reinhard Bonnke’s Pastor? Your church may never have measured in the thousands but you’d still be accruing rewards in heave on the millions of souls these two men had impacted for the kingdom.
Pastor I can hear Him saying to you today,“‘Well done!’ the king exclaimed. ‘You are a good servant. You have been faithful with the little I entrusted to you, so you will be governor of ten cities as your reward.’ (Luke 19:17). It’s not about the crowd we attract on Sundays…its about the 70, 12, 3, and even the 1 that you serve, disciple, mentor, mature, and launch. The challenge is that our culture shouts to us that success is in the numbers. Yet, it appears Jesus’ metric of success isn’t found in growing spreadsheets, but faithfulness to love and care for those He sent you. From Heaven’s perspective you may be more successful than you realize, and that my Friend is the only perspective that matters! Don’t quit you’re making a difference more than you realize!
*Please note this wasn’t written to bash mega churches. There are other posts to discuss the pros and cons of the mega church.