Big churches have a reputation for being overly programmed and impersonal. Small Churches have a reputation for being backwards and lazy. I’ve always fought against those characterizations, believing them to be unfair caricatures. But a recent conversation made me realize that those stereotypes have their foundations in some sad realities. I was talking with a
Big churches and Small Churches bring different gifts to the body of Christ. They also face different sets of temptations, based on their size.
The biggest problem with church size isn’t that there are too many big congregations or too many small ones. I also don’t think there is an ideal church size or a bad church size.
The biggest problem with church size is when we use it as one more excuse for Christians to throw stones at each other.
“Why don’t small churches grow?” That’s one of the most common search terms that leads people to NewSmallChurch.com.
So today I ‘m going to take a stab at answering it. But before I offer my answer, I’m going to do something that may surprise you. I’m going to challenge the premise of the question.
The presumption that Small Churches don’t grow is false. Small Churches do grow. Some grow numerically. Most grow spiritually. Many grow in both ways.
Friendliness, warmth and connection are not automatic in any church. Big churches know this. Small Churches tend to forget it. And when we forget it we can hurt people deeply.
An unfriendly Small Church can be a dangerous thing.
Big churches are aware of crowd dynamics, so most of them work really hard at overcoming the pull towards anonymity. Many of them succeed and are very friendly. It may even be one of the reasons they became big.
Small Churches need to work just as hard at friendliness, warmth and connection as our large church counterparts do. Maybe even harder, because friendliness is more expected and needed when the crowd is smaller.
Church leaders have a lot of ideas about what the numerical growth of a church – and therefore its size – says about that church’s success and value. Many of those perceptions don’t match reality. This infographic addresses some of those misperceptions.