“The most significant sociological phenomenon of the first half of the 20th century was the rise of the corporation. The most significant sociological phenomenon of the second half of the 20th century has been the development of the large pastoral church — of the mega-church. It is the only organization that is actually working in our society.” — Peter Drucker, as quoted by Rick Warren at the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life’s biannual Faith Angle conference on religion, politics and public life, May 23, 2005.
Okay, let me unpack something I have been thinking about for a while. I went to hear Steve Timmis from The Crowded House yesterday at a event Hamo put on. I went to hear him because I think he is an excellent bible communicator. He is, and I enjoyed greatly his biblical exegisis, stories and general teaching. It was great that Hamo and others could bring him over.
Steve was pushing that the small/house church way of doing something is the most effective missional approach. It is not. In fact it seems to me that Steve is benefiting from something we all know to be true. A church plant will experience the most growth in its first couple of years. Also a small group of authenticity is very attractive. These are not really biblical reasons so much as sociological ones, people are attracted to something new, people crave community. So what, mega churches know that too, which is why they emphasise small groups. Steve implied that small house church was better than more traditional church because people there actually cared for each other. Well…great. But a larger church can and many are, just as authentic. They care for each other through small groups as well.
In fact Rick Warren says this, “The small group structure is the structure of renewal in every facet of Christianity – including Catholicism.“
Church is not about this method being better than that method, it is about embracing what is effective for Christ.
It was exciting to hear how Steve and The Crowded House network of churches have led people to Christ.
However my personal belief is that a large, motivated, inspired and cared for community of people can do far far more to reach the community and have a significant impact, than a small struggling group of people. I might even argue that such house methods might be seen by a significant group of people as ‘weird’ or ‘cultish’. But you know what? I don’t care what method you use, and I think many of these emergent types are doing an effective and passionate ministry.
Its time for us to embrace the personality type, the gifting, the wiring God has given us, and allow others to do the same. And recognise that very often the reason we do things the way we do is because of these reasons.
Church is meant to be fun, seeing what others are doing for Christ is meant to be fun.
May we shout for joy when we hear of your
flying banners to honor our God.