“God has really blessed XYZ Church! Look how they are growing. They must be doing something right!”
Ever hear a line like that? Then you look at your poor little church and wonder what you are doing wrong. Few people understand how difficult these comparisons can be for pastors and church leaders. If the church isn’t growing, you must not be in favor with the Lord. I wonder how many pastors have lost their jobs because their people have blamed them for lack of numbers in church attendance.
Pastors go to their denominational conferences and guess who is asked to speak—the pastors of the large churches. Who is on the cover of the magazine? The pastor whose church is growing fast. After all, these guys must have it together. They must be doing something right.
Church success equals right doctrine and God’s favor. Is that right? I’m not so sure. Does the largest retail store always offer the best prices? Is the largest newspaper the one filled with the most truth? Is the largest sales company the one filled with the most honest people? Does the largest car company make the best automobile? Does size always indicate quality?
Well, when I put it that way the answer seems obvious, doesn’t it? We sometimes forget that churches are in the marketing business today. Some are better at communicating with the community than others. Some connect with people in more ways than others. Large churches, like large retailers, offer a wider variety of entry points or products. Some have the organizational structure to grow.
I have observed the church scene for nearly 40 years and I can’t say that the largest churches are the best. Some large churches have lousy messages and lousy doctrine. Some are outstanding in both areas. Church growth has a great deal to do with location, timing, and marketing. Just like any other business or organization.
But not all large churches are compromising. I certainly don’t mean to suggest that. I just mean that church growth seems to have less to do with pleasing God than with connecting to people. It may simply be that a much larger percentage of the people are more comfortable with a large church.