A family in our church just delivered their second baby, Ann. On the same day, our church hosted a memorial service for a miscarried child, Xavier. The Lord gives, takes, and keeps a registry of names (Job 1:21; Psalm 139:16).
Likewise, God reproduces and reclaims churches. I talked to a pastor this morning who had five in attendance yesterday. I can hear doors closing. Contrarily, earlier I had listened to the podcast of a pastor who oversees 7 campuses and leads a church network (Acts 29) whose goal is 'to plant 1,000 new churches in the next 20 years.'
Mars Hill is a big church in a big city, and it would be a flippant understatement to describe the personality of its pastor, Mark Driscoll, as big. Elephant is a better metaphor. Of course, I am borrowing the term from a book I recently reviewed from Barna Publishing, entitled The Rabbit and the Elephant.
Barna's recent research has predicted a deathblow to traditional church life in North America. The pollster's numbers suggest that by 2025 of the two-thirds of adults who currently attend traditional churches, only half will remain committed. The Lord takes away.
The others will relocate, recant, or become rabbits, according to Tony and Fecily Dale, pioneers of the House2House movement of simple churches. "Somewhere between ten and fifteen million adults are estimated to visit a house church each month... The traditional resistance to these microchurches has dissolved rapidly in recent years... Rabbit (simple) churches are here to stay (pp. 28, 207). The Lord gives.
Of course, the premise that mass-reproduction is always good is not unanimous. Commentary surrounding the octuplet mother has been primarily critical. Many countries illustrate the evils of overpopulation by birthing children only to traffic them later. And Bob Barker daily calls for neutering and spading pets.
I understand that each example of reproduction is clouded by various ethical issues. That being said, reproducing churches as quick as rabbits promises its own subset of birth defects. Not all of them will survive. Just like the elephant-church of five down the street.
Fortunately, God peers through the clergy robes and ministry models and accepts the naked souls that inhabit them. "Blessed be the name of the Lord."