Your Local Church is Gone. Would Anyone Notice?

Tuesday is for Thinking

It was almost two decades ago. I was attending a local pastors forum. Around the circle were 40 pastors, almost all of whom cared for congregations of between 500 and 1,000 regular worship attenders. Sprinkled in among them were two or three “mega church” pastors. The idea was to learn from one another, share best practices, commiserate over different problems, pray for and with one another and generally praise God for the work that He had given us to do.

On the second day, one of the mega church pastors, in an intriguing moment of honesty, made a statement, asked a question of the group and followed it up with an even more intriguing statement. I’ll get to that in a moment.

Understand, that in this gathering of pastors, the reason for the presence of the mega-church pastors was that in some way, all the pastors of churches between 500 and 1,000 aspired to learn from the larger churches how to become churches of over 1,000 in regular attendance. We were there to learn how to solve problems of church organization and service that would allow us to break the 1,000 barrier. After all, if 500 is good, 650 is better and over a 1,000 is better still. A larger church, the assumption goes, means greater ministry effectiveness, greater ministry impact, more people reached for the gospel. From another angle, it sounds a little crazy. A bigger church, means bigger problems, more levels of bureaucracy, stretched relationships, loss of intimacy, and a host of other complications. 

Still, we were American pastors and Americans being Americans, are generally infatuated with growth. So when one of the mega-church mentors said,

“If our church disappeared tomorrow, I don’t think the community at large would even notice. I think our people (about 2,500 at the time) would just be absorbed into other evangelical churches in the area and that would be it.”

Then he asked a question,

“I think that might be true of most of the churches in this room. What do you think? Would any one outside of your church notice if your church disappeared next week?”

He let that question hang in the air for a moment, and then he named an evangelical church in a neighboring community, a much smaller church, just over 500 in weekly attendance. 

“If _______________ Community Church disappeared tomorrow, the whole region would be impacted by the loss.”

Without going into the details of the kind of impact that the church was having—-(that’s a discussion for another post)—-, let’s ask a different question.

What would it take for your local church, remaining completely faithful to a Christ-centered, gospel-centric proclamation of Jesus, to leave a visceral hole in the fabric of the community you exist in and to which our great God has called you?

Idea Primer:

  1. What kind of ministries would say to your community that you love like Jesus?
  2. What would tell your neighbors that you forgive like Jesus?
  3. Jesus commissioned his disciples to preach the gospel. How will you leave the building and proclaim the gospel?
  4. How can you bring healing and reconciliation to your community?
  5. What kind of ministries would loudly say to your community, “those people love God and they love us too”?

Please share your ideas, whole or in part, in the comments.

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