Some time ago I asked a simple question to the readers here at Helping Churches Make Vision Real, “What’s wrong with big churches?” As you can imagine I received some emotionally charged answers. But as I sifted through the responses there were 10 key issues that kept coming up.
In Part-1 of this post I briefly described each of these common criticisms of large churches with no added personal commentary, which I promised to add later. In this post I offer a few of my own thoughts and brief response to each of these top 10 complaints I received about large churches. If you want to understand my comments in context then read part-1 of the post.
#1 “It’s Difficult to Connect with People”
I’ve seen a lot of small seemingly friendly churches where it’s difficult to “break in” and connect. There is a big difference between being a friendly church and a church where you have friends. The key is does the church have a strategy to help guests take the next step towards involvement and discipleship?
#2 “The Pastor doesn’t Know Me”
One of the reasons that the average church in America has less than 80 people in attendance is because that’s the amount of people that one pastor can typically take care of by themselves. Jethro gave his son-in-law Moses some great advice in Exodus 18:13-26. Stop trying to do all of the work of leading God’s people alone. They shouldn’t all be coming to you. It’s bad for you and it’s bad for them. Learn to delegate and empower other leaders to join you and share the burden of leadership (paraphrase).
#3 “It’s all about the Budget and the Buildings”
Generosity is one of the key indicators of spiritual maturity. A church that doesn’t consistently talk about and lead their people to be generous is going to have a difficult time funding the expansion of the Gospel.
#4 “The Staff are always Changing”
In a growing church there are always going to be new staff added as a part of the growth. There will also naturally be staff that fit during a particular season who simply don’t have the capacity to lead in the next season of ministry as the church grows and a different skill-set is needed.
#5 “They only care about Numbers not Discipleship”
Simply put growth and numbers matter. Every number has a name and every name has a story. It’s important for churches to count people because people count. I’d rather see more people in a church than less people in a church and I’d rather see more people in heaven, than less people in heaven.
#6 “They Build Consumers not Disciples”
Spiritual maturity probably isn’t what you think it is. It’s not an emotional experience, an intellectual exercise, or acquiring more knowledge. Jesus tells a parable about two houses that were built, one on a foundation of sand and the other on a stone foundation. In both cases the builders heard the Word of God, but only one of the builders put what he heard into action. Could it be that spiritual depth according to the Scriptures is simply putting God’s Word into action? It’s not what you know it’s what you do with what you know.
#7 “They’ve turned the Church into a Business”
You’re right, the Church isn’t a business; it’s the body and bride of Christ. But that doesn’t mean that great financial stewardship, planning and strategies, structure, good operational or human resource practices are unbiblical. Read the book of Proverbs. The church hasn’t ripped off the business world; the business world has ripped off the book of Proverbs. It’s time we take it back and lead more wisely.
#8 “The Sermons are a Mile Wide & an Inch Deep”
Effective communicators understand how to take complex ideas and make them simple to understand and applicable to everyday life. Jesus was a master at this, and He was actually winsome in his approach. The Pharisees didn’t think Jesus was very deep either. They just thought He knew how to attract a crowd. You can’t do much with a crowd of people if you don’t know how to attract a crowd
#9 “All they care about is the Weekend Show”
The number 1 reason that people come to church in America is that a friend invites them. And research shows that 7 out of 10 people who don’t attend church in America have never been invited to church. Wow. The easiest way to share Jesus with the people that matter most to you is to invite them to a church that shares the Gospel and gives people the opportunity to respond and say yes to following Jesus.
#10 “They’re really Lousy at Communication”
I got nothing here…yes, churches are notorious for being lousy at communication. Not just large churches but all churches. Size just complicates and exasperates it. Check out this video interview I did with Tony Morgan to learn more about improving communication at your church.
Posted in Leadership