Did Ellen White warn against having large churches?
Yes, Mrs. White did have certain words of warning and counsel regarding large churches. I’ll quote a couple paragraphs for you below, but for more information I’ll refer you to the three-volume index to Mrs. White’s books. Under the heading “Churches,” section number 7 is entitled “Large.” The quotations that follow come from this section, and the index can refer you to many more. About one whole column of references there concerns this subject. If you don’t have the index yourself, you may know someone who does. Or use the search capability on our Web site to search for “large churches” or “large church.” You will likely get more hits than you will find in the index, but a number of them will probably not be dealing with the issues you are interested in, and you may miss some other statements the index includes because they don’t happen to use the exact expression “large church” or “large churches.”
Our duty to act as missionaries for God in the very position where He has placed us has been greatly overlooked by us as a people. Many are eagerly turning from present duties and opportunities to some wider field; many imagine that in some other position they would find it less difficult to obey the truth. Our larger churches are looked upon as enjoying great advantages, and there is among our people a growing tendency to leave their special post of duty and move to Battle Creek or to the vicinity of some other large church. This practice not only threatens the prosperity and even the life of our smaller churches, but it is preventing us from doing the very work which God has given us to do, and is destroying our spirituality and usefulness as a people (Testimonies for the Church, 5:184).
Many of the members of our large churches are doing comparatively nothing. They might accomplish a good work if, instead of crowding together, they would scatter into places that have not yet been entered by the truth. Trees that are planted too thickly do not flourish. They are transplanted by the gardener, that they may have room to grow and not become dwarfed and sickly. The same rule would work well for our large churches. Many of the members are dying spiritually for want of this very work. They are becoming sickly and inefficient. Transplanted, they would have room to grow strong and vigorous. It is not the purpose of God that His people should colonize or settle together in large communities. The disciples of Christ are His repre-sentatives upon the earth, and God designs that they shall be scattered all over the country, in the towns, cities, and villages, as lights amidst the darkness of the world. They are to be missionaries for God, by their faith and works testifying to the near approach of the coming Saviour (Testimonies for the Church, 8:244).