Last October Tina and I vacationed in Maine. For three days, we stayed on a working Amish farm.DSC_9591

I learned that the Amish dress alike because it provides less opportunity for vanity.  If everyone is wearing the same thing, no one worries about how much to spend for dresses or shirts.  It helps keep them humble.  No need to look at catalogs from Macy’s or Belk.

Also, there’s no such thing as an Amish megachurch and it’s not just because Amish churches meet at people’s homes.  In Amish country, you go to church in the district where you live.  And this is not just about convenience.

A district averages about 135 people or 20 to 40 families.  When the membership grows larger than that, a new district is created.  Just like that, a new church is born.  (“A Pocket Guide to Amish Life,” Mindy Starns Clark, Harvest House Publishers: Eugene Oregon: 2010, p. 36)

They keep these districts and their churches small for two reasons: 1) For spiritual intimacy; 2) It prevents any one district from becoming too powerful or too prideful. (Ibid, p. 37)

The Amish care about relationships, but the relationship they care most about is their relationship with God. They are willing to break up and downsize their religious gatherings to keep groups from becoming too powerful or too prideful.

That’s so unlike many of us.  We like to say, “Supersize it.  The bigger the better.”  Most Baptists can’t even getDSC_9592 a Sunday school class to divide for the right reasons.  However, many Baptist churches were planted and started with this kind of pioneer spirit.

To their credit, many megachurches became large because their members were not possessive about space and groups but were willing reach beyond their circle of friends to reach new people with the gospel.

Even so, megachurch leaders must be on guard against the same temptations that the Amish feel when their numbers rise above 135 people.  Many have crashed and burned because their egos got in the way of such large memberships.

However, as the Amish show us, size is relative when pride slips into our hearts.  Any time the focus gets off God and onto us, we have a problem.

We may not go to the extremes that the Amish do, but we must find ways of recognizing the temptations that “more is a must” and that “bigger is always better.”

While we work to guard ourselves against the sin of pride,  let’s remember that at times God’s blessings are poured out upon us in spite of ourselves.  In those times we realize that His blessings really do have nothing to do with us.  It all about his grace.  It always is.  Sometimes we are just too prideful to see it.