Since their inception, churches have served three main purposes, to Inform people of the Message of God, to offer a place of fellowship, and to help those in need. However as we look around today, we can tell that the church has not succeeded, as a whole, at these three tasks. Personally I do not believe that it is mere coincidence that the potentness of churches has weakened as satellite and mega churches have grown. Now don’t get me wrong, I do not hate satellite and mega churches, I know of ones who succeeded, greatly, at every one of those three tasks, I do however believe that satellite and mega churches are more susceptible to challenges facing todays churches.
The bigger the church, the more people, the more people, the more opinions. People and opinions aren’t necessarily bad, however they can be very detrimental to churches. If a church becomes more worried about the opinion of the masses rather than what the Bible says, they will quickly fail. Because of bankruptcy? No. Because of poor attendance? Negatory. They’ll fail because they abandoned their first mission and that is teaching the message of God. This becomes harder, the bigger the church grows. When you have a huge attendance Sunday after Sunday that means that not only do you have a lot of people coming, but you’re also bringing a lot of money in tithes every week. And whether it’s with bad intentions or good intentions, no church wants to see tithing decrease. So many churches can fall into the temptation of working for attendance numbers.
The fellowship can suffer due to a lack of intimacy between the congregation and between the congregation and the pastor. Upon coming to college it amazed me how many people had never met their pastor. Since childhood I remember eating meals with my pastor, having their home phone numbers, shaking their hands…etc. It sorta saddened me to think there were people who didn’t have that relationship with their pastor. The same goes for youth pastors. I’ve been blessed to have the four best youth pastors I could ask for. With each one, there’s been a 24/7 policy of them being available if I needed to talk and with each one they knew me as well as I knew them. It use to blow the mind of one of my friends that the youth pastor would go to the youth’s soccer games, volleyball games, that they’d check out our hobbies or outreaches we were a part of. The relationship transcended just having a guy read verses to us on Sundays and Wednesdays, our youth pastors all became close friends.
And finally the subject of helping people. An army of people and a stack of cash can be great, but it can also be horrible. Jenny Simmons once blogged about what she called “The Free Church”. She wrote about how churches have replaced quickly doing things and helping others, with “well it’s got to go through this committee first”. Many mega churches have become like corporations. Which isn’t an entirely evil thing, a church is much like a business in many aspects, they still have bills, still have contracts, and other things that they have to deal with so letting insanity reign would not be a good idea. However at the same time there’s a danger to it. When we create hoop after hoop to jump through, many people will not receive help when they need it and many will not get it at all.
Now the good news is, these are all problems that can easily be avoided. Like I said earlier, this isn’t about satellite and mega churches being evil, it’s about falling into complacency. Just like every human and every small church, the satellite and mega church face these problems. It all comes to choosing who you’re going to serve.