There are many church “myths” today that are spoken as if they are factual. A myth is defined as, “an idea or story that is believed by many people but that is not true.” Remember, a myth is called a myth because it has not been proven true. The problem is that we hear myths, believe them, and then allow them to control our thinking and our behavior. When churches believe myths rather than the truth it causes fear and can paralyze their ministries. Things like, “If we build it they will come!” or “All we need is a really cool vision statement and then we will grow!”
In MultiChurchwe learn this about myths. “Every day we hear platitudes that make promises. People share common sense wisdom that seems true, but when we push and pull on the idea it doesn’t hold up. Myths are powerful, controlling ideas that trick us into believing them. They are fascinating . . . and frustrating. They can also be stubborn. They grip our hearts and refuse to let go. One reason for such stubbornness is the powerful influence they exert on our lifestyle, our values, and our dreams. But as powerful as they seem, in the end myths are not true.”
Myths are described as being very deceptive because they appear to be true and we even act as if they are true but do not forget that they are not true. Having written on this topic before we have mentioned myths such as thinking that large churches must have compromised the truth. Size does not dictate or determine how biblically sound a church is. Some believe that small churches cannot make an impact for God. It is not how many attend a church that dictates a church’s ability to be used of God and small does not mean inferior.
1. The ideal church has one pastor who knows all the members by name. There is nothing wrong with this and yes God uses many churches that look exactly like this one we just described. There is a danger here of stereotyping how a church must look and limiting what God may desire to do in a congregation. Some seem to be convinced that when a church becomes larger that it guarantees it will be cold and unfriendly. Actually, size does not dictate whether a church is friendly or unfriendly. You can attend a small church where no one speaks to you or welcomes you.
In the Old Testament Moses was rebuked by his father-in-law for trying to Pastor everyone. In Exodus 18 Jethro challenged him to establish capable men who would lead multiple congregations among the people of Israel. They were to divide the people up into groups of thousands, hundreds, fifties, and tens. Then on the day of Pentecost in the book of Acts the church in Jerusalem has grown to over 3000. So in Acts 6 the church chose additional leaders to spread out the responsibility of caring for the congregation.
Remember, it is not the pastor’s responsibility to care for every member but to make sure that every member is cared for. Do you think that Peter and the other leaders knew every member by name? Do you think they knew every member personally? The point is not size and we must be careful of speaking against something that God is not against! We love to criticize what is different, mega-churches to house churches, but it they are scripturally sound and reaching people with the Gospel they have a unique place in God’s plan.
2. A church cannot grow large and maintain its intimacy and closeness. The truth is that it can but it does take effort and planning. The healthiest churches are when every part and every member is functioning properly and working together. Usually, you can be as connected as you want to be because health is when each body part it participating to accomplish ministry together. We speak often of the great commandment (Matthew 22:37), and the great commission (Matthew 28:19-20) but there is also the great charge given by Peter.
I Peter 4:10 says, “Just as each one has received a gift, use it to serve others, as good stewards of the varied grace of God.” This great charge must be the goal of every church regardless of its size. The goal is to involve every believer in ministry by using their gifts to serve others. The truth is that saved people are supposed to serve people. The natural instinct is to think of first of yourself and to make sure that your needs are being met. The truth as opposed to the myth is that it has never been and never will be about selfishness but always has been about serving and sacrifice.
3. Many churches are convinced they must focus on self-preservation. This one is tricky because there certainly is some truth to this but all too often this begins the journey down an inwardly focused church. As you begin to focus on your core you begin to ignore outreach and it is as if your church is experiencing hypothermia and all of the blood is flowing to the core of the body. You limit the flow of blood to the extremities and begin to sacrifice what seems to be unnecessary at the moment.
God’s economy does not work that way. Instead, Jesus has challenged us to leave the ninety-nine and pursue the one lost lamb. Your church must resist the temptation for self-preservation. Jesus modeled this behavior in the garden before He was arrested as He prayed, “Father if it be possible let this cup pass from me.” Then He prayed, “Not my will but yours be done.” Self-preservation was an option that Jesus refused to take. He resisted and rejected the natural inclination to focus first and foremost on himself.
Maybe the greatest truth to remember that busts all of the other myths is that your church does not exist for you but instead exists for others!