I attended a large church yesterday. It wasn’t a mega church, but it was large, probably around 2,000 people. Is that a mega church?? It might have been twenty years ago, but not today. Anyway, I attended a large church yesterday!
There was a large parking lot, greeters at the door, and the next door, and the next door. There was a very spacious “welcome mall” with great signage and helpful volunteers stationed about here and there.
There was helpful literature with great graphics and cool flat panel monitors broadcasting all manner of helpful pictures, video, and promotions. In the auditorium there were well padded seats, a kickin’ sound system, colored stage lights, fog machines, a very cool worship team with awesome music, an amped up well-worded introduction to the morning theme, a series intro video, casually dressed staff and a casually dressed pastor presenting a very dynamic, but down to earth, message. Oh yeah, and he had a very cool bar stool to sit on, with a padded round seat that could really spin!
I knew the message would be soft pedaled and light on Scripture. I knew it would be interesting, but not too convicting, funny, but with enough content to make a person think, short, but long enough to validate a pastoral paycheck. I knew it would be church-lite, Bible-lite, and God-lite. Okay, not really. I didn’t really know these things about the message. But, here’s what it was really like…
It was unbelievably excellent and effective! The message was from 1 Corinthians 6 and contained about the most straightforward warning against sexual sin one could present. It was Andy Stanleyesque, in the very best sense. The pastor used story, and self-deprecating humor when necessary, to draw the congregation in. He asked the questions out loud that they were thinking silently.
He piqued their interest for an answer to the question “Why?!” Why in the world would God demand that people in the 21st century live by an antiquated and prudish notion that sex should be reserved only for marriage?! He politely asked for 30 minutes of their attention and then assured them at the end that if they would commit to living by God’s design for sexuality, they would be so glad they did!
The service concluded with a very powerfully played “Forever Reign” which includes the lyrics:
Oh, I'm running to Your arms,
I'm running to Your arms.
The riches of Your love
Will always be enough
Nothing compares to Your embrace
Light of the world forever reign
It was one of the most powerful conclusions to a service that I have ever experienced!
At this large church, we were given a very powerful, focused, culturally needed biblical message, wrapped in a winsome and gripping delivery, wrapped in a very crowd-appropriate musically dynamic service. It was an amazing experience.
I walked out hating my small church and my life as a small church pastor. Wait a minute! No, I didn’t!! I walked out thankful to God for a church like this that will reach a lot of people and connect them to their loving God. I was thankful for the pastor and staff that God has equipped to do their Kingdom work.
And, my friends, I walked out so thankful for my 200church! In my church, it’s different. Not better or worse, just different! I am so thankful for the people at my church, and the opportunity we have in our community to reach people, join them to God through the Gospel of Jesus, equip them to serve God and others, and connect them in meaningful and healing relationships with each other.
I was challenged and encouraged yesterday morning in a number of ministry areas, areas where I can up my game, and attempt just a little more for the Kingdom in my own 200church.
Dan Reiland wrote a Pastor’s Coach article a while ago that talked about the three dangers that large churches face:
This Wednesday on the 200churches Podcast, episode 63, Dan joins us for the entire episode to talk about those three dangers. It’s a great, personal, and free-wheeling episode that is sure to encourage and challenge you, and of course, make you laugh!
You should attend a really large church sometime when you are able. It was fun. It really was. And I lived to tell about it!
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