Matthew 4:23-2523 (AK)And he went throughout all Galilee, (AL)teaching in their synagogues and (AM)proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and (AN)healing every disease and every affliction among the people. 24 So his fame spread throughout all (AO)Syria, and (AP)they brought him all the sick, those afflicted with various diseases and (AQ)pains, (AR)those oppressed by demons,(AS)epileptics, and (AT)paralytics, and he healed them. 25 (AU)And great crowds followed him from Galilee and the (AV)Decapolis, and from Jerusalem and Judea, and from beyond the Jordan.
Everywhere I turn there is a blogger, pastor or critic who feels the need to bash churches that are large or growing faster than usual. Typically pride is somewhere at the root of the matter, but more than that it seems there is a movement arguing that fast growing churches or large churches are somehow a sell-out, shallow or so seeker sensitive that the gospel is not central. To be honest, there was a point in time where I began to consider if these accusations were true.
Something that is very interesting is the size and speed of which Jesus' ministry took off. From the scriptures, it seems that almost within days, Jesus was probably ministering to thousands of people. Everywhere he went, great crowds followed him. It seems that he was a man who was highly liked, wildly gifted, deeply respected and incredibly controversial. This caused a huge stir among the people in the community; both ordinary people as well as the political and religious leaders of that day.
So, is that bad? Is it wrong to have a large following? Is it wrong to be likes, gifted, respected or maybe controversial? To take it ever further; Is it wrong to "desire" a large following? I don't think so. In my humble opinion; it doesn't seem that Jesus was too concerned with how large or small his following was, as much as he was concerned with what he did with his followers. Jesus had a great following, yet that following never moved him away from viciously calling people to repentance, obedience and mission.
The same is true today. There is nothing wrong with wanting to maximize your influence or grow a large church or have a great following. As long as we commit to keeping the gospel central, the mission clear, and bringing glory to the Son of the Living God; having a large influence is a beautiful gift from the Father. If He grants you great influence, find joy in that; and if He doesn't, praise His beautiful name. At the end of the day, it's not the size of our influence that matters; its how we use it.