Standing in church, like I’ve done so many Sundays now- Lord, it’s become routine. But, for the first time last Sunday, I experienced something new. This time, when I looked around at the filled auditorium, I realized the magic in affecting so many people. Let me explain (and forgive the math to follow):
Let’s just say there were a hundred people in that room. That means a hundred people heard the message. So, let’s just say- reasonably speaking- that sixty-five out of those hundred people allowed the message to really reach them, become a part of their souls…. That means that 65% of us in that room will go on to be better people, live better lives. What that also means is that indirectly, at least 130 people will be affected by the message, assuming we inspire or directly affect one other person so that the path of goodness follows. (Chain-reaction/ Pay-It-Forward style)
Now, I wont even pretend to be into numbers. However, if you multiple 120 times the 52 Sundays a year… that’s 6,240 people. I’ve been attending church regularly for three years now… so my number must be somewhere in the ballpark of 20,000. Well, what all those numbers translated to is faith in MEGA Church systems. I mean, look at all the good God is doing through mega church facilities, numerically speaking.
But my rebel abstract mind could never be satisfied by so simple an explanation. So it wasn’t long before I was talking myself out of this logic all together. I immediately jumped ships and asked the glaring question: YEAH, but are you REALLY affecting people? Wouldn’t you be reaching people more deeply, more effectively, in a more intimate church setting- like those of the past?
The churches of yesteryear were local at best. You smiled and winked at the same people. Occasionally, you may have even exchanged lustful glances at someone who would turn out to be your future husband or wife. This was back when church wasn’t just an activity, a part of routines, but the center of people’s lives.
Back to me:
And it wasn’t before long- with all this rapid thought- that the whole situation became a parable for life, time, and society itself. It seems as if the state of the mega church reflects what has happened in society over the last fifty, sixty years. It’s as if in every aspect of life we have adopted the MEGA mindset.
Instead of dating one or two people, lets download an app that way we can reach HUNDREDS. Instead of following one or two shows, becoming really invested in the characters and plot, let’s binge watch HUNDREDS of free series on Netflix. Instead of owning one or two pairs of shoes (guilty), clothing, watches, I don’t even know, let’s go for more. Let’s have MORE access. MORE choices. Let’s get that MEGA experience.
Now, more choices isn’t bad- just as it isn’t bad for the church to attempt to reach more people. I believe at my church, they try to remedy the situation by developing life-groups so that people can meet in a smaller, more intimate setting. But, from my limited experience, the life-groups are also catering to the masses because if one person doesn’t fit in it- they still have HUNDREDS to choose from.
People fall between the cracks that way (guilty). I often wonder what my life would be like if I had more than myself, my pastor, and God to question my Christianity. For example, what if my parents, friends, or potential romantic prospects also held me accountable to Jesus’s standards? Wouldn’t I be so much better that way- so much stronger in my faith and convictions- so much more connected to God?
But we are not meant to live in a bubble. Rather, we must pop it, remove our safety net, test our strength in an often Christianless world. I’m trying to achieve a level of living that allows me to draw strength from the safety net, which I can then use in the deep pool.
So, I imagine myself in a Church of 1959. I imagine the small little community parties and shin digs. I imagine testing my cooking skills for all of its Pot Lucks. I imagine learning to dance amidst the smell of Holy Water. I imagine not fitting in, not entirely, because it would take me such a long time to finally get down on my knees and submit and recognize that I have nothing to offer the world without a savior. For that reason, I guess I’m grateful that the “rebellious” choice I made in life, was one that led me directly to God and not the other way around (that’s one good thing that’s come from the times though not good for the masses).
But my original point is that we shouldn’t let it die out. Because there’s magic there. And I’m sure if I was able to look around the tiny room in that one-story building (much like the small Baptist church I attended for a funeral in Pahokee), I would feel it. One day, it would hit me.
So, this should still exist- more frequently- that part of 1959.
The “Less is More” mindset when it comes to dating and practicioners and people should somehow find a place in this 2017 MEGA WORLD. And I pray to God it does.