Everyone, it seems to me, wants to be successful in his or her chosen field. For me, what I do is a calling; not a job, not a profession, and not a career, although I hope I bring all the seriousness and commitment all of those categories denote.
The highest aspiration among American churches is to one day be a mega church. I call it mega church envy. We somehow believe down in our heart of hearts that we’re not truly successful unless we have a large church building, multiple staff, a great web site, and now the latest fad is a video venue where we can now spread the word to other communities.
Let me be the first to say that I’m not against any of those things. I’ve seen them all work remarkably effectively. I’ve sat in video venues and laughed, and raised my hand, and connected with God. So I am not anyone to pooh-pooh anything people are doing in order to reach people with the good news of the gospel. But I am completely opposed to the idea that I am not a legitimate, fully-functioning, healthy, Christ-centered, God-approved church if I don’t have all or at least most of those things.
I saw last week where John Piper made the statement that we use video and drama because we’ve lost our confidence in the power of preaching. And while I believe that statement is not true, as most absolute statements are, I do believe there is something we should hear.
Bad drama and mediocre video is a sign that we’ve lost confidence in the power of the gospel preached as God has ordained. Yes, I said it; ordained. God hasn’t ordained videos. He hasn’t ordained big screens. He hasn’t ordained multi-site and a thousand other things we use. But He has ordained preaching. We know that. It’s in the Scripture. We’re told that over and over. Preaching is primary in God’s Kingdom. That’s what Jesus did, what Paul, Peter did. That’s what the disciples did. What we read in the Scriptures are sermons, preaching, and it still continues today.
What I do believe is important is that we use every tool available to us including preaching: video, drama, sitting around tables, candlelight. I’m for it all if it helps move us closer to Christ, closer to God, and closer to the life He intended. If those things are redemptive, if they bring about reconciliation, if they help us connect on a deeper level, I’m for them all – social networks, Twitter, Facebook, throw it all in.
Here is my problem. You don’t need it all to be an authentic, loving, Christ-centered church. You just need a heart for God, a heart for the gospel, and a heart for people. Take what’s in your hand and do the best you can with it. It’s called innovation. And God will give you more.
So let’s stop the mega church envy. Let’s look at those churches that are huge and recognize that they are blessed. They have things to admire and things to avoid, just like medium-sized and small churches do.
Here is what I want to do: be faithful to the calling and to the place God has called me, to the people He has called me to love. And at the end of the day, if I do that, whatever the fruit of that is, I’ll celebrate it and give God the glory. So should you.