By Shawn McMullen
The church on earth will never be perfect—as long as people like you and me are a part of it. But then, God knew that from the beginning. He doesn’t expect his church to be flawless; but he expects it to be good—even excellent.
With all its imperfections, there is a great deal of goodness—and excellence—in the church today. Regardless of the size of the assembly, from the remote village to the international trade center, from the small town to the metroplex, local churches are making an impact for Christ in the world.
The Intimacy and Influence of the Smaller Church
Some months ago I participated in a retreat held by a small, mid-western congregation. I arrived at the retreat center on a Friday evening as the church members were finishing the evening meal. The group invited me to join them and I couldn’t have felt more at home. Older members, middle age members, and young members alike took time to introduce themselves and extend warm welcomes.
Throughout the weekend I watched admiringly as several generations of Christians interacted with one another. I sensed a special intimacy within this group of believers. Yes, there were family ties among the generations, but there was something more—a deep affection rooted in “the fellowship of the Holy Spirit” (2 Corinthians 13:14).
Although their church building sat on a country road miles from the nearest town, this congregation was making a difference—among their own people and the people in surrounding communities.
The Connection and Cohesion of the Larger Church
I spoke at a fifth Sunday rally hosted by a larger church in a midsize town. The preacher had been with the congregation for decades and was well respected in the community. A dynamic missions ministry met the spiritual and physical needs of families locally and around the globe. The size of the congregation and the scope of its ministries made it a connecting point for the community. Members of the church were influencing local government, nearby school systems, and community organizations.
This larger congregation in a midsize town seemed to be the glue that held the community together.
The Resources and Reach of the Megachurch
A megachurch preacher friend of mine invited me to spend a few days with him. We toured the church facilities, spoke with staff members, and met with ministry team leaders. I learned that preachers and church leaders from across the country regularly visit this congregation to learn about church health and growth. In addition, I was amazed by the vast amount of quality resources generated by staff members and others in the congregation: Sunday school, VBS, and children’s church curriculum; outreach materials; evangelism and discipleship lessons; sermon-based small group guides. These resources were not only being effectively used in the congregation, they were being used by other churches as well.
Congregations in America and around the world were benefitting from the talent and generosity of this megachurch.
With all its imperfections, the church—smaller, larger, and mega—is making a difference for Christ in the world. With that kind of track record, what’s not to like?