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.