Jesus said to them, “Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you.” — John 6:53
I have been attempting to be a preacher now for over 3 years. I have grown so much spiritually in this period of time. As I’ve grown, almost everything I have thought about church has turned upside down. When I was on the outside looking in, I thought a big part of church was having big crowds. I remember certain weeks being reserved for “bring a friend” or “pack a pew.” When I visited the churches with the really big crowds, it was electrifying. I loved it and that seemed to be what everyone should be aspiring to.
Now, before I go on, I do want to say that I don’t believe that there is absolutely anything wrong with any of those things I’ve mentioned.
However, now that I’m on the other side of the pulpit, I’m really questioning the “more people is better” model. Pastors certainly don’t lack for leadership conferences teaching about how to grow your particular church numerically. I even saw one where a famous pastor, for a sizable fee, will personally come and look at how you do things, and then give you steps to “maximize your growth potential.” Doesn’t sound like a bad thing at all . . . except . . .
Jesus was absolutely unconcerned with big crowds following Him. Every single time in the Bible that I read where big crowds started to follow Him, He said something to the tune of the verse I have chosen for this week. Read it again. Thirteen verses later (John 6:66) it says, “From that time, many of His disciples followed Him no more.”
They quit, and it appears that He made no effort to persuade them otherwise.
Maybe He wasn’t interested in people following Him simply for what He could do for them. Maybe He was more interested in people desiring His presence, not His presents. After all, when He said those words in John 6:53, He had just fed over 15,000 people on very little food. The people liked that trick and wanted Him to perform it again. When He told them that two-letter word nobody likes to hear, “no,” they simply said, “Forget this and forget Him.”
Surely we see that the American version of Christianity isn’t much different. Watch the numbers decrease in the church if an “inferior” pastor replaces the old one. Watch people never come back because you changed the style of music. Watch how many find someplace else if you do something as simple as change service times. If leaders want to keep crowds, they had better not be inconvenient.
Then again, maybe they should. At least then, just like Jesus, they would know who is there for the right reasons.