The Bigger the Church, the Better?
By Chen Xi, June 01, 2017 11:06 AM
Mega-churches have been gradually emerging in China with the economical development. We often hear that a place is going to build another church to be the largest in that area and that it can hold many people. There are many churches that build larger churches with extensive loans. For some places, it is not for worship but to surpass the highest local building. Whether it's suitable for the congregation is not that important.
Christians really need to reflect on this: do we really need a mega-church to worship? I don't think so. Catholics in the Middle Ages built many big cathedrals. They even went against the Bible and forced believers to donate. However, people often praised the extravagance of the churches after they were built. Besides, the cathedrals built at the time have basically lost their religious function and become tourist spots. Some were even sold to other organizations when they couldn't make ends meet, so they ended up as commercial buildings or even as buildings for other religions.
It seems that all these precedents failed to alert today's churches. The extravagance of church does not equal revival, but some people intentionally connect the two things to cater to earthly viewpoints. People love superficial glories and pursue obvious success in this world, and churches with such influence build churches that indeed have every extravagance but lack any practical use.
In fact, God cares more about the inner life of the church than its outside appearance. Jesus gave less praise for mega-churches filled with a motley crew, but approved of a small but intimate group. He says, "For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them." (NIV Matthew 18:20)
Division is an important part of church development. After Jesus left the disciples and ascended to heaven, none of the disciples wanted to leave Jerusalem. Therefore, it became center of the faith. But God meant for all nations to hear the Gospel, so He forced the apostles and deacons to leave Jerusalem with the persecution of the Roman Empire. They built churches in other places rather than only building a mega-church in Jerusalem.
As a preacher, I don't oppose churches dividing at appropriate times. Such division is neither emotional nor organizational, but for pastoring and administration. Build and develop a new church in time while the mother church provides support in some degree until a self-sufficient pastoral system is formed in the new church.
The author is a preacher in a grassroots church.
Translated by Grace Hubl
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