I love the church. I love the big “C” Church, and the little “c” church. I love the founder of the Church, the mission of the Church, and the people of the Church.
But I have no expectation of knowing everyone in any church.
The church that made the greatest difference in my life when I was seventeen…I knew very few people in that church at the time. And yet God used it to change my life.
But I hear people often complain about that very thing…not knowing enough people at their church. I’m not sure if they honestly think that their church is to blame for this…or if they are admitting to their own failure to connect with others.
Sometimes that criticism comes because of the growth of a church. “We’ve grown so much that I hardly know anyone any more.” People have even left their church because it grew and they felt the need to know everyone.
But should that even be a value for church members…to know everyone in their church?
Pastor and church consultant Bil Cornelius, says, “Knowing everybody is not the definition of a healthy church. In fact, it may be the definition of an unhealthy church.”
Why? Because Jesus founded his Church to see it grow. He called us to engage in his mission of expanding the Church by making disciples. If all of us in the Church do that faithfully, we will know some in our church, but very few, relatively. If we know a high percentage of people in our church, that means it’s not growing. And based on Jesus’ instructions, that would not be a good thing.
The very first church in the New Testament was so large that no one person in that church could have possibly have known more than a small percentage of people in it. And that church, the church founded by Jesus’ apostles in Jerusalem, is our model. Can you imagine Peter’s response had someone come to him complaining, “Pastor Peter, we’ve grown too big, too fast. I hardly know the people sitting around me in worship anymore. Shouldn’t we start focusing on getting to know each other before we reach more?”
I can hear Peter’s response now, “Get to know the people around you, but don’t stop inviting new people! That’s what we’re here for!”