- (By CP Cartoonist Rod Anderson)
Much ado is made over megachurches these days, but did you know that there is really only one true megachurch?
Only God knows the exact number, but let's say for the sake of illustration that there are 1 billion Christians in the world. These followers of Jesus are trusting in Christ alone to save their soul, and they are serving the Lord "not in order to be justified" before God, but because they have already been justified through faith in the Savior. (see Romans 5:1)
These 1 billion people make up Christ's megachurch, and they consist of many small congregations all over the planet. A majority of the congregations have fewer than 100 disciples who worship Christ together. Only 2% of congregations in America, for example, have 1000 or more in worship, while 60% of congregations have less than 100.
So whether you have 100 people or 1000 people attend worship in your congregation, you are part of a small congregation in the big scheme of things. If you have 1000 people attending, then you have one out of every million Christians in the world attending your church. And if you have 100 people attending, it is one out of every 10 million Christians. Again, that is assuming there are 1 billion believers on earth.
So what's the point Dan? The point is that there is really only one megachurch in God's kingdom. All the congregations which make up this megachurch are wise to downplay their "unique role," while at the same time elevating the Lord and His megachurch. There are congregations of all sizes which do a better job of that than others. But it should be the common goal of every group of Christians.
When a single congregation or denomination is "patted on the back" too many times, people can develop a superiority complex. This occurs when a group sees it's own "brand" of spirituality as being far ahead of the rest of Christ's church. Religious pride hurts believers and it hurts congregations. But it is very natural to embrace this seductive temptation.
The Lord's church already has a King and a kingdom. Each one of our congregations is just a small part of Christ's megachurch, but nevertheless a significant one. Each of our congregations may only be "one in a million," but the Lord loves each congregation and every disciple dearly. And He knows all about our weakness when it comes to developing a proud perspective in relation to the rest of Christ's megachurch.
Is it easier for disciples in larger congregations to become proud as compared to disciples in smaller congregations? Not necessarily. It all depends on the attitudes of those who make up the congregation. Pride has a way of creeping into a person's heart regardless of the size of the congregation. It's one thing to "boast in the cross" (Gal. 6:14) and the superiority of Christ, but it's another to boast in the "superiority" of our congregation or denomination. That type of behavior never pleases the Lord and it doesn't produce good fruit in the heart of a Christian.
The strongest Christian congregations and denominations do not have a superiority complex. They really don't see themselves as any better than the rest of Christ's megachurch. They recognize that they are made up of sinners who are imperfect Christians. And yet, they seek to please the Lord in word and deed as they walk humbly in the grace which God is giving them.
God sees the total number of believers who make up His family. So why would the Lord get too excited about one congregation of 1000 people meeting together en masse as compared to 10 congregations with 100 people in each one? If anything, the Lord may stand to receive more glory from 10 smaller congregations. It depends on who is receiving the glory in the congregation. The pastor? The people? Or Christ?
Leave it to man to find something in his life which he can use to elevate himself above others. For example, man is tempted to boast in his "perfect interpretation" of every verse in the Bible as compared to the interpretations of other believers; or our large congregation; or our many programs; or whatever. But the important thing is what is going on in the hearts of those who call themselves followers of Jesus Christ. Is Jesus being exalted in my heart more and more, or am I too busy patting myself and my congregation on the back?
These are important issues to consider, especially in America where the temptation to celebrate numbers is greater than in nations where Christians are constantly praying for strength to endure in the midst of extreme persecution.
So whether you are a disciple in a congregation of 100 or 1000, just remember what God is doing in His megachurch. He is not interested in having a million Christians all trying to build their own little empire. Instead, the Lord wants His people to worship and serve Him rather than their own agenda and their perception of self-importance.
Here is what makes you important to God. It's not the size of your congregation, or even the work you do for Him. It's the size of God's love for you as demonstrated at the cross. And if you and I will remain enamored with that reality, we will be empowered from on high to please the One who holds this worldwide megachurch in His eternal grip.