“Nobody likes a big church – except pastors.”
If you hadn’t already read the title of this post, you probably wouldn’t think that quote was from Rick Warren.
But it’s just one of several similar quotes from a short video in which Rick Warren shares some very helpful thoughts on our misperceptions about church size and attendance.
The video originally appeared on Thom Schultz’s When God Left the Building YouTube page. You can scroll down a little to watch it right here.
Here’s another quote from Warren:
“I think one of the things we need to do is change what we reward in churches today, because for the last 50 years denominations and organizations have rewarded size, attendance.”
I have no idea what those “rewards” would look like – I’m guessing Rick may not either – but he’s absolutely right that we need to change our thinking in that regard.
As he says in the last quote of the video, “Big isn’t better. Small isn’t automatically better. Healthy is better.”
Click here for the follow-up to this post, Rick Warren, Perry Noble and Mudslinging Christians.
3 Essential Steps to Stop the Church Size Comparison Game
It’s time for the big church / small church comparison game to stop. Here are three steps that I believe are essential for that to happen.
1. Small Churches have to stop blaming big churches for “stealing our sheep.”
First, they’re not our sheep, they belong to Jesus. Second, people don’t go to churches for size, they go for health and quality. If they’re leaving an unhealthy church for a healthy church, they should be applauded, not criticized – whatever the size of either church is. And yes, people do leave unhealthy big churches to go to healthy small churches. Despite the stereotypes, the flow isn’t one way.
2. Church leaders (including Small Church pastors) must see Small Churches as normal, not broken.
Like Rick says in the video, “There’s no correlation between the size and strength of a church. A church can be big and strong or it can be big and flabby. It can be small and strong or it can be small and wimpy.”
3. We need to realize that many healthy, outward-reaching churches will never get big.
Numerical growth is not limitless – or inevitable. As I wrote in a previous post, Growing a Bigger Congregation Is Hard, Rare and [Gasp!] NOT a Biblical Mandate.
The era of “bigger is better” needs to end. Videos like this might just help us get there.
Thank you, Rick.
Here’s the entire transcript.
What people misunderstand about “the large church”, or the “megachurch” (I hate that term), is they think people are interested in size. Nobody likes a big church, except pastors. Pastors want a big church because it’s obviously more fulfilling to speak to a larger group than it is to a smaller group. But nobody who chooses a church saying “where’s the biggest church in town? Let’s choose that.” No. They choose a church that ministers to their needs, that provides an opportunity for mission and growth and maturity and fellowship.
I think one of the things we need to do is change what we reward in churches today, because for the last 50 years denominations and organizations have rewarded size, attendance. There’s no correlation between the size and strength of a church. A church can be big and strong or it can be big and flabby. It can be small and strong or it can be small and wimpy. Big isn’t better. Small isn’t automatically better. Healthy is better.
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