When I started attending church as a dedicated follower of Jesus Christ, the congregation size was very small, and most of them comprised of children with a few adults. Interestingly enough, there were always more women than men. Then I relocated to North Carolina and attended a church which was considered mega with a membership of over five thousand parishioners. It was an adjustment in terms of size, administration, and culture. The first church I attended it was very close knit, meaning everybody knew everybody’s business, and if they didn’t know they were about to find out. In the second church, if anyone knew your name, it was startling to say the least.
I didn’t mind attending a large church because I am a quiet, introspective lady who likes to worship the Lord and be about my business. Actually, I loved it. The unique thing about the church in North Carolina was they found ways to break down the structure to make it more communal, whether it was by associating members who lived in nearby zip codes or zoning in on gender and generational similarities that would bring us together as one. Honoring our individualities without smothering us with a blanket of unbiblical religious conformity.
And then I left and came to Texas by way of Arizona (yes I have travelled a bit). I attended a church which was larger than the previous one. They boasted of a congregation size of 20k plus and at first it was intimidating, or at least that is what I told myself. I thought being new to Texas, I needed to adjust and all will be well. I was wrong. When I look back, it wasn’t the size of the church that intimidated me. I was uneasy about the appearance of fellowship.
You see, I pulled a Jonah on God. When I went to Tarshish (Arizona) I thought whatever the Lord commanded me to do in North Carolina I will resume in Arizona. Needless to say, I spent nearly three years in the belly of a big fish, and when it spat me out in Texas, I had to pick up where I left off. So here I was in this mega church and the time I spent was as fruitful as it needed to be. However, there were a few observations I picked up along the way concerning mega churches:
- It boasted a congregation of 20 thousand, but only five thousand could fit into the whole building.
- They made a distinction between the church as an organization and as an organism.
- There were ministerial echelons created among the members.
- The pulpit became more of a platform to sell products, dreams, plays, projects, talent, and visions instead of preaching the Holy Scriptures.
- During the altar calls, the pastor would boast about new membership receiving Jesus. That’s what it looked like on television, but the number of new converts never reflected that.
- Multiple “Love offerings” were scheduled in advance.
And I could tell more, but perhaps another time.
Understand, I am not pro or against mega churches. In fact, according to the scriptures, Moses was the only one who had a true “mega church.” His congregation consisted anywhere from 1-3 million of a mixed multitude and moving all those people including their cattle and stuff was no easy task. Realize that at one point in time being associated with a large membership was exciting in Christendom, but soon waned because the fellowship dynamic lacked community, felt like you were attending work, or God’s children were seen as a Christian commodity to be traded on the Christian stock market.
Anyone is free to choose where they worship, but be very careful not to rely on congregation size and reputation. As for me I knew before I left Arizona where I was going because the Lord revealed it before I got there. The thing is, God doesn’t always reveal what lies ahead and that is to prevent us from circumventing his plan.
Go where the Lord directs you, and when you get there be sure to prove ALL things.