Is Bigger Really Better?
Have you ever played The Bigger & Better Game? Two teams each start with a paperclip and a simple mission to wander around trading with people for something that is either bigger or better. Sympathetic strangers are often willing to go along with the fun, which eventually leads to some pretty remarkable results. I knew some kids who ended up with a car! (It wasn’t a very good one, though.)
Lots of people play the game of life that way. We’re trying to get the biggest house or bank account. We want a bigger truck or a bigger piece of dessert. And in recent years, even churches have gotten in on the action. You can find mega-churches in every major city across America. And that raises a question: When it comes to church, is bigger really better?
We find some clues about this in Acts 2:41-47, which just happens to be the very beginning of the church. Here are three things worth considering:
1) God isn’t afraid of mega-churches. On the very first day of the church about three thousand people believed and were baptized (Acts 2:41). By most people’s standards, that’s a mega-church! This same group (“all who had believed”) were going to the Temple together and sharing possessions among themselves. It’s no wonder the apostles had to start delegating responsibilities rather quickly (Acts 6:1-4).
So, we need to recognize that there’s nothing inherently bad about having a large church. And while no mega-church is perfect, neither is any smaller church.
2) There’s no substitute for small groups. In addition to their large group gatherings, the early church also met from house to house, “taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart.” There was a closeness to their community that included hanging out together for dinner. It’s worth pointing out, this is definitely not describing all three thousand people meeting up at one person’s home for dinner! Instead this tells us there were smaller groups that naturally formed for fellowship, sharing the Christian life together.
This same thing happens today when smaller groups of believers gather together to pray and read the Bible and care for one another. In our church we call this a Life Group. But regardless of what you call it, the important thing is that you have a small group of people who knows you and loves you and encourages you to grow in your faith.
3) The goal is always growth! The Lord added to their number daily! Every single day they saw more people come to faith in Christ! Have you ever considered how exciting that must have been? God was at work in their midst drawing people to Himself every day. And while this certainly would have presented some significant leadership challenges (as the rest of Acts goes on to describe), it was also accomplishing God’s mission. God has always been at work leading more and more people to a saving faith.
So it may just be that size is the wrong question. God can work in and through a small group of believers or a large one. The important thing is growth. Is your church continuing to reach the lost for Christ? Are you?