Thursday, June 25, 2009

Mega Church Vs Mini Church

I was at a conference helping in interpretation last month. A friend whom I have not seen for awhile came and had a chat with me. We were talking about the conference and then conversation turned to the church that she goes to. I knew that she has been to a new church to help several years ago.

Then she mentioned that recently she has “shifted” to a mega church. Surprised, I asked her why since she has the “burden” to help smaller churches.

She replied, “For my children’s sake. They learned a lot from the church.”

I was taken aback from that answer. Won’t you? What was she implying? Does it mean that all these years, in the smaller or rather mini church, the children learned nothing? What kind of message that she is sending to the children concerning church?

Then she said, “O yes, we have a very good program for parenting.” (She works in a Christian para-organization that deals with Christian courses). At that point, I am sorry to say that I was totally shut off because I don’t think I could trust someone who thought that children could learn more in a mega church is suitable for us. I was raised in a mini church and my children are raised and still are in a mini church and I don’t think they are learning anything less.

I am not against these mega churches. In fact I thank God for their generosity in inviting speakers where otherwise we will never get the chance to hear and offer courses at a reasonable price for those of us who can’t afford overseas trip to hear them. I also appreciate their effort to open all these seminars to benefit people like us from the mini churches.

But why do people have to think that we can learn more from mega churches? I guess the closest that I could think of learning is; we learn different things but not more. Where God has placed us is important. It is not the size of the church that determines our spiritual life. It is never because we came from the mega church and therefore we are more spiritual. If that is so, then where is the place of mini churches? Have the people forgotten that most mega churches gotten their members from other mini churches somewhere?

People like this friend of mine is ignorant of the contribution of mini churches to bring in souls and to disciple them till they are “of age” and then release them to the cities for further studies or work. I salute the work of the pastors from all these churches who are by the way, the majority make up of the percentage of churches here.

Our children need to learn that church is not a place for us just to learn to take and to receive but a place where they can learn to give and to serve. If the church teaches the bible and the people are teachable then we learn much but if there are bible classes, great speakers from half way around the globe but the people are too contented and remained in their comfort zone, then do you think learning is possible?

My recent trip to Cambodia had humbled me greatly. I saw the pastors who earned so little but gave so much of their time into saving souls whereas we saw a few ministries supported by the mega churches and besides giving money have rendered no help nor comfort to them. The pastors from the villages on the other hand have not complaint but humbly serving the community with the little that they have. Their churches are small and tiny (some without water and electricity) and handled by young ladies and young men who serve because they want to see souls saved. Do you think these people learned anything from these pastors?

We from Malaysia, especially in the Klang Valley are really fortunate (or do you call it “blessed”?) because we have so much more. Now we could choose which church to go to. Nowadays people don’t go “church hopping” anymore, I called them “church shopping” because there are so many churches around that allow people to shop from one church to another. This time because the church has a better offer and “on sale”, so we are here. The next month we may go to another because the deals are better there.

Let’s come back to the basics. Let us come back to the meaning of “church going”. Let’s be careful not to fall into the trap of being too selective. God is calling for COMMITMENT from his people; people who are committed enough to be disciples and not just followers. AMEN!


Luke said...

This is an interesting article. The question i asked myself, "Is it a sin for a church to be mega?" Both mega and small churches have their place in the kingdom of God.Both types of churches meet people's needs accordingly.

Don't misunderstand me, I have been in both small and big churches.... I was involved in pioneering 3 churches in Malaysia and Singapore. I seen the strengths and weaknesses of both small and big churches. The successes and failures of leadership in both.

There are myriad of reasons why people change church or in your words hop or shop. The main question we have to ask - Is the church meeting their needs? or Is the church able to meet their needs?

Perhaps it is the church failure to meet their needs that they move on to another.

The most important thing for the church is to remain faithful to what God has called her to do as well as to shepherd the people well and not lord over them.

Lynda Choi-Pastor's Wife said...

Dear Luke:

True to your words. I also believed that the church will have to fulfill her destiny and calling that God has placed her.

My question is: Why do people have to blame the church leadership for not meeting their needs? Is it the same old statement: It is not what the church can give you, but what you can give to the church that will make a different in a church! Commitment is reciprocal!

I believe each church is different. If a person thinks that this church is unsuitable, then move on but please don't blame the church for not meeting needs or negative remarks about not malfunctioning of the leadership.

Each leaders/pastors have given their best in whatever capacity they possessed... but maybe have fallen short of your expectation.

we often comment how church members are hurt by leadership in the church, but we seldom consider the hurts that the pastors/leaders will have to go through when the members leave.

Frankly speaking, I really don't mind people leaving the church because I recognized that there are just some who just cannot work along with certain people due to expectations and personality. I will bless them if they want to leave but at the same time, I am also fully convinced that I have done my best, given my all to the church when they are with us. For that, I will not apologized for their leaving if they think that I have fallen short of their expectations because it is a matter of convictions and personal views. :-)

Thanks Luke for your constructive comments. I will remain faithful to the calling of God in my life. You are very encouraging and to know that you are also in the ministry and still serving God warm my heart. God bless!!!


musicfreek said...

awesome post! (:
btw, did i mention that I used to wish that i could be in a mega church? cool cell group, interesting events, etc. But,through time, I gradually learn to LOVE being in a mini church. being in one, I get the oppotunity to know our church members better.esp as a youth leader, I get to explore my cell group mates' quirky personality. now THAT'S something.:DD not only that, we get to be super close to our youth pastor and learn as we grow up, to respect our leaders and lots of other things from her personal experiences. I'm not saying that in mega church, you cannot do that. but for a rather introverted girl like me, I do have a fear of being in a really large group of people. more like a dislike i think.:P so the mini thing do help my introvertness i guess. I'm not as shy as before lah, thank God for my good friends ;] now, thinking back, I can't imagine being in mega church. Maybe it's because I got closer to my friends in church that I'm rather reluctant to even consider moving to another church not to mention a mega one.
I love the mini-ness i suppose. or perhaps it's something I've grown comfortable with. (:

Rachel said...

It's not which church you go to, but who you are. And I remember pastor, you said if that person is always complaining about everything the situation remains the same wherever he/she is. It's his/her problem, not the church. And if they leave, memang good riddance (in a way, haha).

I enjoy what mega churches offer, but I don't think I can give or serve like how I can in a mini church. And I also like that in mini churches, we know everyone and cliques are less likely to form.

Like what you said in recent sermons, Christians who think they are righteous (and better than their pastors) are the most likely to fall. I think Christians (mostly adults too, no offense) are so self-centered and self-serving they have forgotten who they are in a church. Not to mention, they behave so childishly and ignorantly while at it.

That's merely my observation & evaluation. It's not like they have more sins than I do lah. Just speaking my mind. :P

Rachel said...

Also also, I get annoyed with some people who over-promote mega churches. They're not marketing Jesus, they're marketing a church like it's a designer handbag! As if mini churches are redundant and lazy.

They would emphasize on what the mega churches offer. Yes, the mega churches are doing a great job for God and for the community (praise God for that!), but I wonder what are THEY themselves doing for God and the community? Why are you bragging about your church when it's the church's work as a whole? What have you got to say about your contribution to the church?

Sometimes we don't hear what we have said until we recall them and then realize how stupid we sounded.

Gosh I think I better stop writing, I'm getting too worked up haha. Again, just speaking my mind and I'm as sinful as anyone else! >_<

Rachel said...

Re: And if they leave, memang good riddance (in a way, haha).

I don't mean that in a bad way, but perhaps this group of people can confide in other pastors better. :)

Re: I think Christians (mostly adults too, no offense) are so self-centered and self-serving they have forgotten who they are in a church

I refer to SOME Christians only, not all. ^^"

Hope I didn't offend anyone! =/

Optimum Brain said...

I understand your comments concerning this Lynda. I have visited many churches by invitation and some just out of the curiosity of hearing how the Lord is speaking through the shepherd of the flock. Many persons that I've known over the years have done the same. Some have left smaller ministries to attend larger ones, and just the reverse for some who really don't desire to remain apart of a mega-ministry because the smaller ones have more of a personal touch.
The needs and direction of many of us as sheep varies. I think of the analogy of sheep in a huge pasture, with plenty of grass to dine on under foot. The pasture may seem (for some) to be "greener" in some places, but may not always yield the best cuisine. Some places yield a bitter taste, others yield a very nutritious meal for growth and health spiritually.
I grew up in a "mini" ministry which over the years (with the Lord's direction) grew into what is now (and what I term as) a "mid-sized" ministry. In other words, it's not a mini ministry, nor a mega ministry, but a type of ministry that experiences growing pains. Some people there who want things to move forward, while others are content to keep things as they are (people are finicky).
The fact is we have to love people where they are (which is really what I'm understanding from you), allow them to graze where ever "the Lord" is directing them. We all grow and have different spiritual needs (and clarifying), needs that are guided by HIS spirit with not just our own selfish direction. In any case whether we are apart of a mega-ministry or mini ministry, we must continue to intreat the Lord for the best direction in our lives so that we can be effective in the kingdom, serve the needs of others and remain vessels for the Lord to pour into, so that we may again give to others where ever they may be in there spiritual walk.

So many complexities, but so many encouraging directions as we follow the word, the spirit and command to love your neighbor as yourself. :)