A Crowd is Not a Church
Here is how the conversation typically goes:
Life-long Church Attendee: "Your church is pretty shallow. Felt like it was a show. I need something deeper."
Me: "Really? That surprises me, cuz' I've been here for twenty years and that's not my experience. How long have you been attending?"
Life-long Church Attendee: "I've been to three weekend services."
Me: "Then you haven't experienced our church yet. You've just scratched the surface."
For some reason, people who have attended church for many years will come to a weekend service and believe they have visited our church. I tell people all the time: The weekend is not the church. It is a crowd. We are doing everything we can to draw the biggest crowd we can--and then turn it into a church.
Many times people will ask me how big our church is. I typically say, "Do you mean how many are attending each weekend?" Those are two different questions. We may have 5,000 attending on a given weekend--but that's not our church. That's just a crowd. Determining the size of a church is a bit more difficult. Is it membership? The number of people serving? Those giving? Those attending "deeper" Bible studies? Perhaps a bigger question is--does it even matter?
Here is what I believe: We are at our best when we focus our weekend services squarely on those who are at the beginning of their spiritual journey, and focus our discipleship on those who are further along in their faith. Yes, there is some cross-over, but when we get mixed up in our focus--that's when we begin to flounder. That's when the purpose gets lost, the vision gets unclear and our effectiveness is reduced.