We’ve all heard about megachurches – enormous congregations with thousands of people that sometimes looks like big stadiums. Their pastors become famous and their services become giant shows. I won’t dig into the criticism against mega churches – many has done so before me – but I want to question what we usually believe is a “normal church”. You know, the one that has around 100-200 members, a pretty little church building and a youth group, children’s group and gathers families on sundays. I’m very critical to those as much as to the mega churches.
See, “normal” churches are mega churches in miniature. The services are shows where people are expected to sit down and listen most of the time. Except for some singing in the start and some prayer in the end, one should be passive in church. And quiet. Furthermore, the building costs a LOT of money – and most church members are fine with that. In fact, most of them don’t even know what it costs but they trust their clergy to handle it for them. Now, the funny thing with buildings is that they’re mostly very unflexible. If the church attendance shrinks, the church building becomes increasingly expensive until it’s not useful to have it the same size anymore. If church attendance grows – we have to build a bigger church! Which would make most pastors and priests very excited. But again, that costs TONS of money!
In fact, the goal of many church leaders is for their church to grow, and grow, and grow until they basically looks like a mega church. I’ve heard several talk dreamingly about how they heard about this awesome pastor who started his church with a tiny bit of followers but now leads a mega church. Of course, every respected pastor or priest would say that the main goal of the church is to lead people to Christ and give them eternal life, but then it would be pretty neat if the church also grew bigger, and bigger, and bigger. So we have to rebuild the church building again, and again, and again.
You know what? I have another suggestion. Let’s resurrect the biblical mini church. As we all know, the Biblical church met in homes. There are no evidence of church buildings existing before the third century. Yet, the church in Jerusalem consisted of 3000 people (Acts 2:41). Obviously, they did not meet in the same house, but in many. It’s probable that they were about ten-twenty people in each house church. Now, each unit did not display themselves as an independent church, but they were not reduced to our modern concept of “home groups” either – they did celebrate communion dinner (Acts 2:46) and equipped each other with prayers, hymns and spiritual education (1 Cor 14:26).
Now, what do you think will happen if one of these house units grew? Would sister Mary collect money from the others to big a bigger and bigger and bigger house until it had room for 300 people? Of course not, they multiplied. Started new house units. They were all part of one church, and so there is no need for one leader to try to catch em all. Just share your disciples with others. If you grow, don’t start wasting money on rebuilding your building over and over again, just multiply the love.
I’m so glad to belong to a mini church that values simplicity, mulitplication and community. We are very committed to evangelism and church growth – but not in order to buy a building but to train more disciples to start more mini churches. Several years ago we decided that if we grew to more than fifty people we would split up and start a new church in a neighbouring area. I really believe this is the way to go for the church and I pray that both mega and normal churches will become mini churches that meet in the homes instead of in buildings.