Many years ago, WalMart was building a new store in our small town.
Before they opened, two representatives of the corporation stopped by the local pharmacy and informed the proprietor that he might as well close his doors now.
The size and buying power of the giant was going to put him out of business.
He informed them otherwise and showed them the door.
He weathered the storm…personal service and knowing your customer still mattered here.
Today, he is still in business and prospering, the WalMart is closed.
The following is a composite story happening all over the country.
The town is small and so are it’s churches.
Most of the churches have been there quite some time and the pastors have been faithful in serving though the ground is hard and the reward has been small.
Those pastors have no grandiose vision…no vision to be anything but faithful to those they have been called to serve in numbers many or few.
It is a difficult, holy, and noble calling.
In the larger town….twenty, thirty, fifty, seventy miles away, sits the mega church.
That pastor does have grandiose visions…his church is large, therefore he must be one of God’s special messengers.
He sees the little town as a “mission field” and though he would not speak it out loud, he thinks the faithful pastor is a failure.
Just look at the numbers…
The “special” one will go to the small town…not in person, mind you, but he will bring a video screen and perhaps some musicians and show them all how it’s really done.
He will pipe his face and his sermons in via that screen and his minions will provide coffee and comfortable seating.
This is called a “planting a church”.
What it really is could be described as “ecclesiastical imperialism”, “corporate arrogance”, or my preferred term, which is best left unwritten.
Many of these “church plants” will fail, but only after stripping some people from each of those faithful, small churches and making the struggle for those left behind that much more difficult.
Some will succeed, having convinced the shallow that bigger is better and a better show is all that matters.
God forbid that the anointed ones simply come alongside a work already there…or go to some place like South Dakota where they actually need new churches.
No, the ego of the great ones must dominate the whole area they dwell in and when that can’t contain them they must look beyond their borders for more.
This is a call to resistance, to see this trend for what it really is, which is nothing more than “ecclesiastical imperialism'”…a corporate takeover of the local church and all it stands for and provides to the local community.
Bigger is not necessarily better and the love of a local shepherd is infinitely more valuable than the ego of the religious celebrity.
Support your local church and tell the mega pastor to “plant this”.