Wednesday, February 08, 2006

When Bigger Isn't Better

I have nothing against large churches. The better part of my first decade in ministry has been at churches of 1,000+ people. And, after all, isn't the point to reach as many people with the Gospel as possible?

Sort of.

The marching orders that Jesus gave his followers was to "Go into all the world and make disciples." In my experience, there is a threshold of church growth after which point, disciple-making becomes secondary to managing numbers and running programs. Maybe that threshold is 400 people, maybe it's 1,000, maybe it's 614. I don't know. But I know it's there. And it's subtle. Before you know it, the drive is to become the next big thing instead of the next meaningful thing.

Is it possible to break the threshold? Is it possible to be a large church that also disciples well? Sure. But it's very rare.

You see, what makes a tree strong isn't the width of its trunk, or the breadth of its branches. No, what makes it strong is the root system. Healthy things grow, and part of that growth is to sprout new branches and increase your shade area. But if you're not also going deeper and growing the root system, you'll fall over.

Too many churches prioritize getting bigger at the expense of going deeper and are in danger of tipping over.

At Harvest, our vision is to grow, but also to plant other churches as we grow. That way, we never outgrow our root system, and more and more people can be reached AND can be discipled.

For a time, Jesus had thousands of people follow him everywhere he went. But they started to fade away as he explained the cost of following him. Eventually, he was left with a few that he poured his life into. They, in turn, poured their lives into a few others, and so on. Within a couple of generations, Christ-following had changed the world.

Lots of churches have "People" in mind. But if you're looking for a church that has YOU in mind, Harvest can help.


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