I have a confession to make.
Just recently, I mindlessly clicked, commented and shared on a post about the supposed poor response of a pastor to an issue in his church (a large and well-known one).
The next morning, I received a message from a friend explaining the other side of the story, with several links to other posts. I had acted before I had looked at both sides of the issue, or even thought much about it.
You’ve probably never done that, right?
It seems even easier to do this with mega-churches. Kind of like our conscience doesn’t bother us much when we complain about Walmart, but we’re a little more discreet when discussing the Mom and Pop store down the street, because we know the guy.
Big churches and their leaders make the news more than little churches.
They may get more publicity, but they also get more criticism.
As a result, we might come to the faulty conclusion that size is the problem with the Church today.
No doubt there are temptations and concerns unique to larger congregations — losing personal connection, handling bigger chunks of money, dealing with the temptations of fame and status, for example.
Still, bigger is not always worse and smaller is not always better.
I’ve experienced some unfortunate scenarios during my five-plus decades as a church-goer, including:
- A pastor tells a church member’s embarrassing secret from the pulpit as a means to control his congregation
- Two different churches split over disagreements and disband
- A wealthy couple manipulates a pastor to do things their way, insinuating they’ll provide the funds IF…
- Of four couples set in as elders, three divorce within a few years
How big were these churches? All were smaller than a hundred. One was a home church.
Maybe the problem isn’t the size of the church. Maybe the problem is the human heart.
God still loves his Church and works through her to accomplish his purposes on earth.
So the reason I refuse to bash mega-churches is same reason I refuse to bash ANY churches.
The Church, for all her flaws, is the bride of Christ. How can I say I love Jesus while dragging his beloved through the mud?
Yes, Christians make mistakes. Yes, we hurt each other. Yes, there is a time and place for exposing sin, and practicing church discipline. Absolutely. We’ll have to do this until Jesus returns.
Let’s just be careful how we talk about churches and church leaders to the general public. In 1 Corinthians 6, Paul instructs the Corinthians not to drag each other to court in front of unbelievers. We do well to apply the same principle to social media.
It’s far too easy to throw each other to the wolves with one click.
So the next time you see a sensational post about a church, mega or otherwise, and you are tempted to share as I was, follow this maxim:
Don’t be too quick to click.
First, ask these questions:
- How reliable — and how direct — is the source of this information?
- What’s the motive and tone of the article? Is it critical, or constructive?
- Have I researched another source to find out the other side of the issue?
- Will my sharing benefit others, or just make the Church look bad?
Asking these questions will help us avoid spreading gossip and feeding rumors. It will give us a moment to think instead of just reacting, and keep us mindful in an atcha-atcha world.
If you follow Jesus, remember that churches of all sizes are filled with his imperfect representatives — including you.
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