Is Building a Big Church the Right Goal?

Contributing Writer
Is Building a Big Church the Right Goal?

There was a recent documentary on Hillsong church that got me thinking about large churches. I want to say, intrinsically there is nothing wrong with a big church and this is not a response to the Hillsong documentary. My question in this matter goes beyond the size of the church, but to the motivation behind wanting to build one.

I want to be clear – I am not against big churches. I have been in several in my life ranging in size from 1,500 members to over 9,000 members, some you would be very familiar with. The problem is not having a big church, the problem is building it the wrong way. As I said before the goal should never be to build a big church. That can be the outcome, but that should not be the goal.

Here is a Scripture I want you to think about. In Acts 2 on the day of Pentecost, Peter stood and preached to the crowd and three thousand were added to the church that day. What I want you to pay close attention to is what the Bible records after that. This is the blueprint for doing it the right way:

When you read this, the growth of the church wasn’t the focus, it was the result. What they focused on was devoting themselves to teaching, fellowship, breaking bread together, and prayer. In other words, they followed Jesus’ command to go and make disciples. Because they committed to these things, the last verse says the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

I believe this method of building a church has not changed. Any desire to grow a church that is not bathed in prayer, teaching, fellowship, and breaking bread is not focusing on growing the church. In other words, church growth is not about the quantity of the people in the building but the quality of change coming to their lives. What good is it to have a full building if no lives are being changed?

There is one thing to note about Jesus’ ministry. When the crowds grew larger, his messages got more challenging. Jesus was not enamored with the amount of people following him. He would constantly go through a weeding out process because he didn’t want fans, he wanted disciples.

In John 6 Jesus feeds the five thousand and shortly thereafter he and the disciples leave to go to Capernaum. When the crowd realizes they had all left, they decided to follow him. As they followed Jesus, he proceeds to give them a very difficult message. Here is what happened after he spoke to them.  

You can read the in-between to know what he said, but he didn’t lighten the message because he was interested in keeping the crowd. He was more interested in creating true disciples than building a big following. We must be willing to get back to this place, and that’s why if the goal is to build a big church, it’s the wrong goal.

If you are a pastor or leader than I encourage you today not to worry about building a large church. If it happens, fantastic, but don’t allow that to be the goal. Focus on preaching the gospel, making disciples, and transforming lives by helping people grow deeper in their walk with Jesus. What you will find if this is your objective, is there will be wonderful fulfillment in your ministry and surprisingly the Lord may add daily to your numbers. You may end up with a big church, but it will be filled with a multitude of changed lives, not just a building of filled seats. 

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Photo credit: Unsplash/John Price

Clarence Haynes 1200x1200Clarence L. Haynes Jr. is a speaker, Bible teacher, and co-founder of The Bible Study Club.  He is the author of The Pursuit of Purpose which will help you understand how God leads you into his will. His most recent book is The Pursuit of Victory: How To Conquer Your Greatest Challenges and Win In Your Christian Life. This book will teach you how to put the pieces together so you can live a victorious Christian life and finally become the man or woman of God that you truly desire to be. Clarence is also committed to helping 10,000 people learn how to study the Bible and has just released his first Bible study course called Bible Study Basics. To learn more about his ministry please visit