Some mega churches, in attempting to build large attendance, lost track of the reason the church exists. The church is not a voluntary organization, but a community or fellowship of those “called” together by Christ. That calling, is what brings the attendees into the doors, not the programs or flash of the day.
The church was designed for the body of Christ. Its primary activity was to encourage believers and develop ministry skills that would help individuals reach out to the lost in their neighborhoods. It was also a place where Christians could unconditionally love each other in a way that would cause outsiders to see something appealing and Christ like.
Christ called specific people to each church so that when they functioned in harmony, they could overcome many of the issues of the day. The ministries that would flow out from the church came from the hearts of those attending, not from a program put in place by a pastor or steering committee. Outreach was a natural overflow of the relationships, and the love, or bonding, that occurred between church members.
Today, many churches are confused about its role in the community because the church is filled with numerous volunteers that were never called. In some American mega churches, people are convinced to participate in pre-established programs for the sake of others, rather than creating a new program by the coming together of like-minded people in relationship.
It’s possible that apathy drove the shift to pre-established programs, as most in the church felt they had to do something to exist. Unfortunately, having volunteers working shoulder to shoulder with the called creates very different results. When the called do what is on their hearts to do, it’s like harmony in motion. It reveals God’s hand on the project.
It’s not too different from the affects of barbershop music. When a barbershop quartet sings in perfect harmony, overtones are created. In other words, when the four men sing their parts in just the right way, the audience hears five notes. It is an awesome experience and a heavenly sound. It’s as if God joined in and sang the fifth part.
The same holds true for the called doing what they were made to do. There is an overtone effect that reveals the presence of a heavenly participant in the ministry – It’s amazing. This touch of the master’s hand is seldom present in volunteer based ministries that are void of the called.
My reference of the called is not to infer the differences between Calvinistic or Armenian viewpoints, but rather to suggest a difference between someone who has God stirring their heart in a particular area, versus someone who participates based solely on mental ascent.
To see these supernatural expressions within a local church, mega sized or not, churches must get back to the basics of building in depth relationships with God, the called, and the visitors. These relationships will then drive new programs that will be spirit led and touch people’s lives in many ways.
The outcome will be more people finding their calling and reaching more of the lost with the gospel. It might also shrink the church for a time, followed by geometric growth as the spirit leads the called to touch lives with compassion and grace.
You are very correct when you say that some, not all, mega churches have lost sight of their purpose. I sometimes miss the good old days of supper on the grounds, fifth Sunday sings, and all the other community gatherings that made church CHURCH to me as a child. I always have to remind myself that the church is not the building or the programs; it is the body of believers that fill it. When they leave, the church leaves as well. We are all temples of the Holy Spirit and should live our lives as such! Thanks for the reminder!