Large crowds were always part of Jesus’ life, his message and the young church. At one point, the crowd was so large, Jesus had to speak from a borrowed boat on the edge of the shore. One of the most famous miracles from Jesus’ life was the feeding of the 5000 – dinner for a crowd. The Holy Spirit came during one of the most crowded times both in the city and the temple. Not that a crowd is a pre-requisite to a good message, or that going with the crowd is always the best decision in all cases. But in the case of Jesus, the crowd seemed to follow him.
I love special events when Christians and churches come together. When I say large events, I mean gathering with significant larger number of believers than the people from your congregation. When we do this, we get an image of the bigger Church! And though being the salt and light in our neighborhoods, communities and cities to accomplish the great commission is key, here are four reasons why I think large events in the church matter:
Power of Witness – When the church gathers for large events, there is witness to the community and world we are following Christ.
Power of Community -There are many conventions, seminars, concerts and otherwise. But here’s the one major difference between the church and any other crowd: we are bound together as brothers and sisters in Christ. True community is experienced and is inspiring.
Power of Connection – Connections with other believers sharpens our faith and theirs.
Power of Numbers – Many church leaders say they don’t care about the numbers – but people sure do. It’s always mentioned how many attended the ball game, how many were at the concert, how many people voted, how many people watched the movie on opening night or the world premeire on TV. We’re fixated on numbers and when the church gathers in a large way, people notice and we are able to give God glory.
The Christian church is the single largest gathering on the planet and it’s awesome to be a part of it! But just in case you get addicted to being a part of one big event after the next – remember these things too:
1) Jesus, even in all the bigness of church, still notices the individual. When the crowd pressed in, he still sensed the woman who touched his coat and stopped to talk with her.
2) Jesus also knew that there had to be a balance of being in the big crowd and pulling away for prayer, refreshment and time with the father.
3) Big crowds don’t necessarily equal big commitment. The same crowd who gathered to shout Hosanna on Palm Sunday had a different cry later than week.
I think the great cloud of witnesses is one of the powerful images in scripture. Crowds make an impact. And I love being part of crowds that make an impact for Jesus.