Let’s put God in the mainstream. Let’s organize worship concerts in the biggest arenas and conferences in the grandest auditoriums for God. Let’s make sure he is on prime time TV and on radio topping the billboard charts … or maybe we should just post his picture on every billboard. NO! Let’s keep God in the backstage and rather let men display on stage. Let’s keep him in a box. Let’s keep him to ourselves. Yes, let’s keep him away from social media and mainstream media. I am sure then we would feel big enough. Isn’t that the biggest a man can ever be … bigger than God? SMH!
We sound really petty anytime we want to figure how much attention God deserves. Some want to treat him like a personal property that they are unwilling to share with the world. Others think the big stages of this world are too sinful for God to feature on. *as if He didn’t know that*. If the volume of sin could deter God from showing up anywhere then he wouldn’t have appeared on earth to save humanity from sin. He could have stayed in heaven and basked in his own holy presence, but he chose to do otherwise. There isn’t a place on this earth or in the universe that God doesn’t deserve to be present or displayed. God quizzes us in Jeremiah 23:24 ‘… do I not fill heaven and earth?’ Can anybody ever get any more mainstream than that? So thanks … but no thanks for your help, God isn’t insecure about his place, he already knows it.
This issue remains a never-dying argument amongst Christians: whether God deserves recognition on the mainstream level or not. It isn’t ours to decide, but the verse quoted from Jeremiah above reveals to us that God isn’t one to fit into boxes. It is just not in him to do that. The last time I checked, even foxes refuse to go into boxes because they are too big, so why should God? Let’s not make the issue about whether or not God deserves to be in the spotlight on the big stages of this world. We must rather be concerned about how he is portrayed on those stages. Is he being depicted as the God he is? Are people misrepresenting him as Aladin’s genie who is simply there to satisfy human desires? Or is he being portrayed as sovereign, gracious, loving, just, holy etc.? These should be the crux of the discussions we have on this matter. The size of the stage God is put on doesn’t matter as compared to what he is doing there.
One thing we must always bear in mind is that, with God it is not a matter of being on the big stage but rather drawing small and big crowds to himself so he can save them. This is evident in the New Testament where we can see Jesus himself not forcing to be recognized as one of the elite in the society but rather mingling with the lowlifes in such a profound way that even the elite set out to meet and be with him. First of all, Jesus was born in a manger – this isn’t mainstream at all. He is the King whose birth had been prophesied centuries before it actually happened, so one would have expected a more royal entry into this world. Nope… none of that. He was born in a stinking manger. Here is the depiction of the assertion I made earlier. At his birth, shepherds came to worship him. When he was a little older, wise men (Kings) came all the way from the East to present gifts to him. God can transform a small stage into a big one. As I said, he doesn’t have to mingle with the elite to get their attention, but he knows how to pull a crowd to himself when he is allowed to. The same thing happened in John The Baptist’s ministry. He was described as ‘.. the voice of one crying out in the wilderness’. The headquarters of his ministry was in the wilderness yet people came from the city to be baptized by him. Even the Messiah went to the River Jordan and John baptized him too. It is not about being in the midst of the elite. It isn’t really about being in the capital. God will and can use you wherever you are; whether in the city or in a remote village. He really can use you if you give him pre-eminence on whatever stage you are on.
With that being said, one thing I have noticed is that Christians often criticize Men and Women of God who are in the mainstream for absolutely no reason. I find that particularly strange. It is as if once somebody’s ministry grows the person is assumed to have sold his soul to the devil. Or once a particular preacher is on TV, then it means he is doing it for the money. The most pathetic of all is the way people doubt the credibility of a man of God when an uncommon miracle is recorded in his ministry. That is actually blasphemous. You expect your God to be doing the normal things … like healing headache and flu? Not the God I know.
It appears you are spotless before God because you have a congregation of 50 people right? Wait till your congregation grows to just 1200. I was the head of a department in my Campus Ministry; a department of about 15 people. The long and short of the story is, managing people isn’t cool beans. Your ministry seems flawless because you are not on TV. Your voice seems amazing because your songs are not on radio yet. Wait till the critics hear you sing. Wait till the modern day Pharisees here you preach. Let us not merely tear people down because they are in the mainstream. Some are actually there because God has appointed them to influence the culture that way. When we do that, we sort of accredit every single ministry that isn’t big. As if having a small congregation is the indicator that your ministry is pleasing to God. When Jesus fed the 5000 men, it was because 5000 men had followed him to be blessed by his ministry. That is mainstream. At another place, he fed 4000 men – that is mainstream too. On the day of Pentecost, when Peter finished preaching 3000 people joined the church. Paul preached in the Synagogue in Antioch (Acts 13), the following Sabbath almost the whole city came to the synagogue to hear him preach. That is mainstream! Is there an auditorium that can accommodate half of the people in your city? These were the sizes of the crowds that Jesus and the Apostles pulled in their individual ministries. If you doubt the credibility of a man of God merely because he is on TV; Radio; at every crusade; on social media etc. you might as well doubt the credibility of Jesus and the Apostles. People hail Joshua as a better leader than Moses because he led the children of Israel into Canaan. They do this forgetting that Moses had a much bigger congregation. How can you manage a ministry of over 600,000 people? Moses deserves a lot more credit than we give him for his leadership skills and the anointing upon his life.
At a point in time, Paul was described in Acts 24:5 (ESV) as ‘a plague’ because of his zeal for the things of God. Can you imagine what Paul would have done if he had social media, TV, Radio etc.? He was called a plague just because he walked on foot spreading the word of God to the masses. I am sure Paul and the rest are looking down and shaking their heads at how Christians are not taking advantage of the new media available to us. Stop hating. Study the principles of the ones who have made it and follow suit. The reason you can spot their mistakes is because they are on TV. They are human; when your ministry reaches that level too people will look at you through the lenses of a microscope to point out the minutest errors in your ministry.
I won’t sit here and pretend every mainstream ministry is of God. There are wolf in sheep’s clothing on TV these days. We have seen gospel musicians who watered down their message to suit mainstream standards. All these are pathetic. I believe in a gracious God who is intolerant of sin and the misrepresentation of who He is. All these people shall be punished by God if they don’t repent – it is not in our place to do that. So instead of generalizing and making it look like the mainstream corrupts the gospel, let us pray for the ones doing it right so their lights will forever shine. Jesus and the apostles never made the mainstream corrupt their message, they stayed focused.
They weren’t moved by the crowds; they moved the crowds.
When Jesus saw the crowd he was driven by compassion because to him they were like sheep without a shepherd. He didn’t see the crowd as a money-making venture. His aim was to impart into their lives. I appreciate people in village evangelism and pastors who pastor small congregations because every soul is as precious as any other soul to God.
Let us see ourselves as co-labourers in the Lord’s vineyard. If we were in a literal vineyard, I doubt anybody would criticize the labourer who has the largest portion of land to work on. Many would rather offer to help him instead of point accusing fingers at him. The pastor with the biggest congregation is actually the labourer with the largest portion of land to work on. His task is enormous. He needs your prayers, encouragement, advice etc. Don’t tear him down and later go on your knees to pray for what he has. It is highly hypocritical to do that.