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8 Ways to Stop Biggering and Start Bettering the Church

Remember the Once-ler? From The Lorax by Dr. Seuss? He was a fairly normal guy who wanted to build a big business at the expense of the environment, so he kept “biggering and biggering” until all the trees were gone, the wildlife had vacated the landscape, and his business crashed. The little children’s book seems to leave us with the impression that biggering is bad. But I’m not convinced that should be the big lesson.

The story is told of Truett Cathy, founder of Chick-fil-A, that he once sat quietly through a board meeting listening to his executives brainstorm about how to get bigger. He suddenly interrupted the chatter with a declaration: “If we get better, we won’t have to worry about getting bigger.” Talk about an Aha! moment!

We can make the church grow, or we can watch the church grow, and the difference boils down to bettering instead of biggering. This clip from an upcoming movie called When God Left the Building illustrates, from Pastor Rick Warren’s perspective, why biggering is simply not the right goal. (And hat tip to Joshua Griffin for the find.)

I often warn people who attend Grace Hills that if they’re just looking for a smaller church, we hope to disappoint them. And I further explain that the church must be intentional about growing larger because of our mandate to keep on making disciples out of a lost culture until Jesus comes. Then I follow up with the truth that while the church should grow larger, our energy should actually be invested in making it smaller. That is, we must put time and effort into turning the crowd into a congregation of committed Jesus followers who are in close relationships with a smaller number of people within the larger community.

This is why we talk a lot about how to spread out as we are growing up. America doesn’t need another enormous event center packed to the rim with spectators of a fantastic religious show. But America desperately needs a movement of Christians who spread out and infiltrate every pocket of our culture with the good news of Jesus.

I believe we’re seeing the beginnings of a bettering movement within our own Grace Hills Church family. We started small, with less than a hundred people when we launched. Recently our weekend attendance has been averaging 225 or so, so we’ve grown a little bigger. But the really amazing story is happening behind the scenes where lives are really changing.

Two days ago, I sat down at lunch with a couple in our church who lead a team of volunteers on Sundays and asked a simple question, “How are you guys doing?” Their response moved me. “Better than ever.” Their marriage is stronger than ever. They’re struggling through some disappointment and a difficult period of waiting in a very healthy way. And their intense passion for serving Jesus inspires me and makes me hunger to see many others share their experience. What really grabbed me, though, was the part where they said, “Ever since we started coming to Grace Hills, and especially since we got involved in our small group.”