In Jesus’ days, the religious leaders were consumed with anxiety that Jesus had been gaining too many followers (John 11:45-57).
11:48 – “If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and then the Romans will come and take away both our temple and our nation.”
12:19 – “’See, this is getting us nowhere. Look how the the whole world has gone after him!‘”
Religion today is still concerned about how many people attend our worship services. The number of parishioners translate into dollar amounts collected in the offering plate, which is translated into how many pastors it hires/calls and how big a building project can be. This causes us think of adherents and followers as just a piece of the pie (“more for others means less for us”). This also causes us to think of the small church as lowly vs mega-churches as more successful. Should we carry this view of God’s kingdom. Is this a healthy or distorted way to view God’s kingdom?
Jesus was concerned about discipling people and truth and life, not the number of followers he has. For pastors, elders and deacons, it takes faith to carry on as small churches in communities where there are mega-churches next door.