As a local church pastor, I like to keep a good pulse on church trends and fads. At the very least, it provides interesting entertainment value. Like clothing styles and music styles, church styles can be all the rave one season and totally drab the next season.
Such is the case with the megachurch model. Indeed, it seems like Americans are quickly becoming disillusioned with the idea that “bigger is always better” when it comes to church life. So, enter the latest all the rage church model – the micro-church!
This model of church goes by many names. A recent Christianity Today article states, “These communities go by different names – fresh expressions, missional communities, micro-churches – but they bear many similarities….Though the structures of these communities vary, their values are generally consistent. These include intentional focus on mission to a specific population (fitness enthusiasts, or single moms, etc.), an emphasis on lay leadership, low costs, and a high rate of reproduction.” Interesting, isn’t it?
My goal in this short blog post isn’t to argue the merits of micro-churches over megachurches (or vice versa), but to simply ask a simple and direct question: What ever happened to the biblical model of church? What ever happened to churches just being faithful? What ever happened to this whole Pauline notion that “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth” (1 Corinthians 3:6-7)?
Does it really matter how big or small a local church is? Maybe to a degree. I mean, numbers tell us something, right? But isn’t it possible for a church to be on fire, faithful, and fervent in their mission to “make disciples” (cf. Matthew 28:18-20) and be either huge in numbers or quite tiny in numbers? I think the answer is obvious.
Perhaps local churches that intentionally strive to be either mega or micro are totally missing the boat. Maybe, just maybe, we should desire church growth without demanding church growth? Perhaps trying to reach the crowd for simple numbers sake isn’t really fulfilling the Great Commission after all. And is the solution to this problem really to tailor church to a specific demographic just because big church isn’t working out so well? Again, I think the answer is obvious.
Here’s the bottom line, perhaps churches have a responsibility to steward, plan, and strategize for church growth BY MEANS OF staying faithful in prayer, preaching, and meeting the needs of the people that God brings to them (cf. Acts 6:1-7). Perhaps we should keep the main thing the main thing. So, in the case of Prairie Flower Baptist Church, what is the main thing? Well, it’s “to be a strong church that makes disciples for the glory of God.” Can’t we just devote ourselves with white hot passion to that mission and vision and leave the growth results to God?
I mean, who was it that said, “I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it”? Oh yeah, that was Jesus. And who is Jesus? Listen again to the words of Paul from Ephesians 2:19-21, “So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord.”
Honestly, I don’t think it’s all about being a mansion of a church or being hipster with a tiny church model. Perhaps you can be a megachurch and faithful. Perhaps you can be a micro-church and faithful. Perhaps you can be a “normal church” and faithful. Indeed, at the end of day, I think that mere faithfulness provides some rich fruits, whether that be visible, tangible fruit like numerical growth or invisible, spiritual fruit like spiritual growth. But faithfulness always yields the sweet rewards of fruit. Yes, at the end of the day, I think Jesus just wants us to strive to be faithful churches. Amen?