My name is Tom; this is Simple Church Minute.
We have recently been visiting Wolfgang Simson’s 15 Theses towards a Re-Incarnation of Church. Thesis #5 is “The church has to become small in order to grow large.” About this Simson says, “Most churches of today are simply too big to provide real fellowship. They have too often become fellowships without fellowship. The New Testament church was made up of small groups, typically between 10 and 15 people. It grew not by forming big congregations of 300 people to fill cathedrals and lose fellowship. Instead, it multiplied sideways, dividing like organic cells, once these groups reached around 15 to 20 people. This then made it possible for all the Christians to get together into city-wide celebrations, as in Solomon’s
Temple court in . The traditional congregational church as we now know it is, by comparison, a sad compromise; neither big nor beautiful, an overgrown house church and an undergrown celebration, often missing the dynamics of both.” (Unquote) Jerusalem
A couple of phrases in what Simson says above are easily misunderstood. The phrase “become small to grow large” is used in megachurches to introduce a small group system. Oftentimes, such groups are made to fulfill a need to be known by a few people while reinforcing the previous sermon. No megachurch senior pastor, no matter how gifted, and all I know of are exceptionally gifted individuals, can replace the Holy Spirit. Also, with all our church divisions, a citywide celebration such as the one in Acts is rarely attempted, much less even achieved once. Those two types of meetings are represented in scripture; the midway point, the congregation, somewhere between fellowship small and citywide big, is not in scripture.