Upon walking into the recently built campus' main entrance I felt a bit like a survivor from Oceanic Airlines flight 815. The massiveness of the building itself was enough to make me feel a bit uncomfortable, I had no idea where to go and had it not been for the guidance of my friend I'm not sure I would have known where to go. We began walking through hallways and corridors, that I learned where actually hallways of the Christian Academy also an off-shoot of the church, and eventually ended up in a back gym where roughly 200+ middle school students were playing all kinds of games and running around screaming like the savage "others" on the island. I was beginning to feel like I needed to tuck tail and run. After all this type of thing wasn't for me, I knew God had called me into ministry, but I was hoping for something a bit smaller, a bit more controllable. It was at that moment the Middle School Youth Pastor came up and introduced himself to me. He made me feel welcome and immediately plugged me into a small group of guys to see how they worked together throughout the night. The gym was loud and noisy but the kids were eating it up and the leaders seemed to really care about them. It seemed like the hearts of everyone around me wanted me to feel welcome. By the end of the night I was signed up to try out as the lead guitarist for the worship band and continue on with the 6th Grade Guys small group. This was the beginning of the formation for my diagnosis of how to cure Megaecclesiastic Phobia = "A Fear Of Being Lost In The Crowd At Mega-Churches".
Megaecclesiastic Phobia occurs when someone feels lost in the crowd at a mega-church. I don't necessarily mean physically lost but more so emotional, and spiritually. It's hard to make your way into large crowds of people and feel like you're doing anything besides going with the flow of the fish. Normally when I see a new leader or student walk into our youth room, we've since moved from the gym, almost always the first look I see is an expression of being overwhelmed. That's why we began to have leader and student greeters at our doors. In fact we do just about everything you can do to make sure that a new individual doesn't feel lost in our ministry. We have a personal greeter, along with a map of where everything is in the room (yes a map... it's a big place... hence mega.) We try to communicate everything from the stage in a way that is easy to understand for someone who hasn't been in church their whole life. Most importantly however we do our very best to get that new individual plugged into one of our Focus Groups. There are where the heartbeat of our ministry happen. It's where 250+ on a Sunday morning turns into small groups of 15-20 on a Wednesday night. (I know 15-20 is a little high but it's the best we can do with what we have.) These groups plug people into each others lives so they can hear about the love of Jesus and see it lived out together in community. It's a great and beautiful thing.
Almost 2 years ago I was standing in the main entrance to our church campus feeling lost. Now through a series of divine appointments, I'm the associate pastor for the middle school department as well as the worship director for middle school and high school. I lead worship weekly for the middle school as well as handling the majority of the graphic design work for our ministries. All because someone stopped and took the time to make me feel part of what was going on. Someone made me feel important.
This is the cure for Megaecclesiastic Phobia but it's not the complete story. There are many people I've seen walk in the doors and never make the effort to get involved. It's a sure fire hindrance to the cure if you're not willing to get involved and get your hands dirty. We forget sometimes that we don't go to church for us. We go to worship God. It's not about us at all.
Just some thoughts.