by Tim O'Neill
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.
If we were to reach 10,000 people for Jesus and see them become part of a church, how would we go about it?
Would we be best to see a church grow by 10,000 new believers? Or would it be more likely to happen by seeing 100 churches grow by 100 new believers or 100 new churches established that will grow in this way?
There is no doubt that God does use mega churches in strategic places to impact in strategic ways. Many of us are indebted to Willow Creek, Saddleback and Hillsong to name just a few mega churches that have had an amazing impact.
Mega churches have been around a long time, in fact as long as Christianity itself. The first century AD saw mega churches in Jerusalem and in Ephesus, and perhaps in other locations as well.
But throughout church history, mega churches aren’t the norm. The spread of Christianity saw churches of all sizes that met in all kinds of places. They met in houses, in caves, in halls, by the river, in courtyards and who knows where else!
Mega churches are generally led by extraordinarily gifted individuals who God uses in amazing ways to establish churches that have a major impact but that are anything but the ordinary. In fact the NCLS estimate that the average congregation size in Australia is between 60 and 70 people.
If we make the mistake of thinking that mega churches are the norm, we will easily get drawn into the comparison game where a pastor of a church of 100 ends us feeling that they are a failure. Unhealthy comparison easily seduces us to think this way, and as soon as we fall into this trap, the souls that have been saved, the lives that have been changed, the relationships that have been restored and the love that has been given under our ministry gets overlooked.
But if God’s plan for you was that you led a congregation of 100, and that was how He had wired you to do, His words to you would be “well done my good and faithful servant”. Unhealthy comparison stops us from hearing such words and instead makes us focus on what we lack.
A second consequence of unhealthy comparison is that we pull back from thinking God could use us, and so we sit back and don’t have a go. I wonder how many men and women are in congregations around Australia who know that they aren’t a Brian Houston or a Steven Furtik or a … and so they never consider that God may want them to lead a church? And so they don’t bother getting equipped to lead. They don’t bother learning ministry skills, and they don’t bother looking for opportunities and seeking God about them.
But maybe if the goal posts that we were aiming for was leading a church of 100 rather than a church of 1,000 or even 10,000, then maybe our perspective may be different? And maybe in our church of 100 or whatever size it is, there are men and women who could pioneer or lead a church of 100? Just maybe they are sitting there waiting to be envisioned by a leader who looks not at their inadequacies, but at their character and their potential?
Here’s a staggering thought. It’s estimated that the total weight of all the elephants currently living on the planet is about 4 billion kg. Thats a huge amount! But thats only about one tenth of the combined weight of all the ants alive today. They are estimated to weigh 40 billion kg! Who would have thought that ants weigh more than elephants! Of course they both have their place. Elephants are majestic animals that easily capture our attention while ants often go unseen but are pretty well everywhere. Both are God’s creation and are a critical part of life on earth. So too are both large churches and small churches.
For the leaders of churches of 100, what would it take to see another 100 people reached? Would you be best off trying to double the size of your congregation, or are you best off looking to equip, empower and envision others in your church to start another congregation that they may be able to grow to 100? Who are you raising up to one day take the baton of leadership from you?
Who are you discipling in this way? Who are you interning? Who is your Timothy about whom Paul said “For this reason, I have sent Timothy to you, who is my dear and faithful son in the Lord. He will remind you of my ways in Christ, as I teach them everywhere in every church.” (1 Corinthians 4:17)
Perhaps you are someone who should be being equipped as a Timothy, but you haven’t put up your hand yet. If thats the case, go and have a chat to your pastor. He or she may be both surprised and delighted.
100 new churches of 100 people each. That’s 10,000 more people being reached. Pray about this. Just maybe God has a plan for you in this.
ps – if you want to explore internships or church planting and whether it’s for you, send me an email and I’ll help you to look into it.