RT @ RickWarren: Being a small church is nothing to be ashamed of. Being a small-minded church is disobedience to Jesus' Great Commission.
Aphorisms can be clever, but they're also simplistic and shallow, Warnock writes.
The problem with Twitter is you only have 140 characters to make your point. The example above has been re-tweeted about a million times in a couple of days. Frankly, I find it a little annoying.
Okay, so Rick Warren is a megachurch guru, no doubt. Warren has more than 65,000 Twitter followers; I have less than 2,000. But the problem here is I think Warren is trying to be clever (who doesn't occasionally?) but he's sending a lot of mixed signals. Here's what I mean:
- Being a small church is nothing to be ashamed of.
Okay, there is the first problem. The implication about small churches, of course, is that they are something to be ashamed of. If not, why would we need to be reassured that they're not? I'm a small-church pastor and a small-church advocate, and frankly, we don't need megachurch pastors as apologists for the churches we lead.
- Being a small-minded church is disobedience to Jesus' Great Commission.
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This struck me two ways. First, small-minded gets connected to small church. Not the same, but a clever bridge to make his point. But in making that point apparently Warren is challenging small churches to not be small-minded, whatever that is. As though small-mindedness leads to small numbers in church.
Does anyone really think that megachurches are small-minded? Of course not. Everything they do is big – buildings, parking lots, staff, programs and so on. They're megachurches and by definition are de facto not small-minded.
Second, why is small-mindedness disobedience to the Great Commission? Why isn't it poor stewardship, failure to love, bad marketing or a host of other inadequacies?
My point is this: Aphorisms can be clever, but they're also simplistic and shallow. I personally believe Rick Warren is a good guy so this is nothing personal. And he takes his share of hits for everything from gay marriage to his recent appeal for funds. But please, Rick, if you're trying to pay small churches a compliment, don't be so clever in the future. Thanks.
Chuck Warnock is pastor of Chatham Baptist Church in Chatham, Va. He blogs at Confessions of a Small-Church Pastor.