Not A Mega-Church – Numbers

I continue my series of posts related to several statements I have heard lately about Mega-Churches.

Several years ago a non-christian singer named Bob Seger wrote a song entitled “Feel Like A Number.” A few lines into the song Bob sings out:

I feel like just another
Spoke in a great big wheel
Like a tiny blade of grass in a great big field
To workers I’m just another drone
To Ma Bell I’m just another phone
I’m just another statistic on a sheet
To teachers I’m just another child
To IRS I’m just another file
I’m just another consensus on the street

A few lines later he finished out the song with:

And I feel like a number
Feel like a number
Feel like a stranger
A stranger in this land
I feel like a number
I’m not a number
I’m not a number

Most of us clearly understand what he is saying. We have our social security numbers, account numbers, credit card numbers, employee numbers and on and on it goes. A friend of mine once attended Kentucky Christian College and he told me that they had a T-shirt in the bookstore that said, “Everybody is Somebody at KCC.” Well, a group of students bought the shirts and then had their student ID numbers printed on the back. He thought it was hilarious but the faculty failed to see the humor. No matter where you live or work it is easy to feel like a number.

I say all this to underline that the Church is the last place we want to feel like a number. We want to feel like a part of a community, that we fit into a group that truly cares about us as unique individuals. Most of the time when I hear people say something negative about a Mega-Church it reflects the basic truth that in a big Church you feel like a number. A number used to boost the Churches political influence or the pastors reputation or make the leadership the envy of their denomination.

I must admit, I have been to about a dozen or more Mega-Churches in my life and in one or two I did feel like a number. Actually in most of them I felt very special. At Southeast Christian Church I was directed where to park. Then I was offer a beverage in the parking lot. Next I was greeted at the outdoor porch area. The door was opened to me by some nice people who greeted me again. I was greeted once again by a lady handing out worship folders and finally once more by an usher who helped me find a seat and asked if he could answer any questions. I have had similar experiences in other large Churches I have attended where they did even not know I was a pastor.

These types of experiences have underlined a truth to me – Every Church has to be careful not to treat people like a number. Being treated like number has nothing to do with size but with overall action. The actions of kindness can be present or absent in a large Church just the same as they can be present or absent in a small Church.

So no matter what size Church you attend you need to continually be asking yourself, “Do I treat people as special or like a number?”

Here are some spin-off questions to follow:

-Did I greet people with a smile?
-Did I only talk to people I know or was I open to new people?
-Did I offer people I didn’t know help finding anything?
-Did I ask people their name? (Did I repeat it and try to remember it?)
-Did I invite anyone to sit with me and my family?
-Did I have to sit in the same chairs in the same area?
(Would I allow other people to sit in MY seat?)
-Did I talk to the new people I met and ask them about their life?
-Did I offer to take anyone to lunch?
-Did I do anything to make someone feel special?

You see, in my experience, the reason some Churches get large is because everyone who attends feels very special. The opposite can also be true, the reason some Church stay smaller is because people do not feel special but more like a number. As Bob Seger frequently reminds me, no one wants to feel that way.

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