Recently I was involved in a Facebook discussion about large churches. I think I have a unique perspective on this issue because I was a member of a mega-church in high school and college and was on that staff of that church for 4 and a half years. Both of my younger brothers are still members there. I have also been the pastor of a small rural church with less than 100 on Sunday morning in worship. Few people have had the experiences of being in both extremes of the church field.
As I contemplate my time in both types of churches, if I was forced to choose between ONE church of 1,000 or TEN churches of 100, I would take the ten churches of 100. I would make that choice because in my experience I think they have greater impact on the lives of individual believers and a greater reach into the non-believing community. Though their pastors may not dress cool or have perfect hair or teeth nor get all the stage time at big meetings, they are quietly making a difference, sharing their faith and teaching the Word to their community.
However, in a perfect world, instead of choosing one or the other, I would have BOTH. Large churches can do certain things well that will attract people who are drawn to those types of things. Smaller churches engage in the more personal style of ministry that so many people crave in our impersonal world. In a perfect world, there would be a large church in a community, surrounded by lots of small churches, and instead of the large church feeding off the small church and the small church being bitter against the large church; they would see each other as partners in the Gospel. The small churches would support some of the special events that the large church can do. The large church would respect the small churches and encourage their pastors and discourage their members from leaving the small church and joining the large church. Regretfully, we do not live in a perfect world.
It is hard to find a big church that loves small churches. It seems that many large church leaders see small church leaders as ineffective and perhaps even unimportant. Such arrogance cannot be a blessing to the Kingdom. Likewise, it is hard to find small churches willing to cooperate with big churches. They are afraid of losing their church members to them. Somehow we must work through these issues and become real partners in reaching the entire community with the Gospel. Let us pray toward that end.