Are Churches of Christ Suspicious of Large Churches? A couple of nights ago, Emily and I had an interesting conversation with some friends who grew up in Churches of Christ and now attend a Mega-church in the Mid-West. We recalled some of things we've heard people in Churches of Christ say about larger churches, often without first-hand knowledge of the churches. Not all of them are complementary 🙂

Smaller Churches of Christ in particular can be quite suspicious of larger Churches of Christ, de facto, and extremely suspicious of large churches outside Churches of Christ. Why is this?

Here are a few reasons I've come up with, and I'd love to hear yours if you've noticed this:

  • A belief that largeness is symptomatic of compromise of beliefs or practices. But why do we think this?
  • Jealousy. Never good.
  • Xenophobia. There aren't a lot of large Churches of Christ, and so we fear what we haven't experienced.
  • Caricaturing. Big churches are focused on buildings, money and superficial things. Small churches are focused on the Kingdom and evangelism. Hmmm…

Maybe you haven't noticed this, but I've picked up on it in the classroom, and have felt it as I've been in "larger" church leadership for the last 10 years. I even felt it for the 5 years before that when I was in mid and small church ministry. It seems to me that learning from one another is a better response than the 4 options above. Bigger isn't always better. Smaller isn't better. Better is better.


Dr. Tim Spivey is Lead Planter of New Vintage Church in San Diego, California. He is the author of numerous articles and one book, "Jesus: The Powerful Servant." A sought after speaker for events, Tim also serves as Adjunct Professor of Religion at Pepperdine University. Tim serves as a church consultant, and his writings are featured on, Church Executive magazine, Faith Village, Sermon Central, and Giving Rocket.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

Share Your Thoughts

5 thoughts on “Are Churches of Christ Suspicious of Large Churches?

  1. There’s good and bad in both “big” churches and small churches. I find the thought of large churches selling out the gospel for culture as very offensive. To grow large, you have to be doing something right. And then again small churches aren’t small from lack of trying. It all depends on the comfort zone of church leaders in outreach methods and church activities; and in the receptivity of those we are reaching out to. Neither is better then the other, as long as we are all lifting God high and doing the best we can in being salt and light.
    Does that make any since? Thanks Tim! God bless. Grace and Peace.

  2. I think I understand why some are suspicious of big churches. Osteen, Swaggart, Hinn, Haggard, White – just a few of the names that come to mind when I think of “big” churches.
    These folks were/are very visible, led/are leading huge churches, and have all been wrapped up in some sort of controversy or suffered a major moral failure that’s been made public.
    I think this may be a case where the behavior of a few has caused others to paint with a broad brush labeling all leaders of large churches “swindlers and crooks.”
    Another thing to think about is our teaching against easy believism as a means to be saved in Churches of Christ. The churches that have grown the largest in the United States many have argued do so by teaching easy believism and a watered down version of the gospel that emphasizes mental ascent while deemphasizing repentance, obedience, baptism, etc.
    Those arguments have often rung true, in my opinion.

  3. Would agree with the gist of your comments but I’ve experiencedd the reverse: If I preach for a church in a small-town rural setting, I must be dumb and the congregation must be judgmental, etc.

  4. In my experience virtually all of that suspicion originates in pulpits and brotherhood “papers” with well meaning preachers and editors whose agenda has no real connection with the ministry of Jesus. The politics of it all is disheartening. I have publicly resigned from the judge’s bench. Thanks Tim, I love you and thank God for your commitment to Jesus and His word!