Wednesday, April 30, 2008

At Home In a Small Church

In my life, I have been apart of many different congregations ranging from the very large to the very small. If I have learned anything from this experience it is that I am most at home in a small church.

I have been apart of churches that had a membership of 50, and those that had a membership of over 1,000, and those with memberships somewhere in between these extremes. There are advantages and disadvantages to all sizes of churches. Here are some of my observations.

Larger churches . . .

1. . . . can usually afford to address every demographic in the congregation in effective and specialized ways.

2. . . . can usually have a significant profile in the community.

3. . . . are usually less hung up on traditions that stifle progress.

4. . . . are oftentimes a collection of cliques and several people who are overlooked.

5. . . . sometimes facilitate the performance of the few and the spectatorship of the many.

6. . . . sometimes become so consumed with meeting the needs of the congregation that they forget the wider mission field.

7. . . . sometimes reduces leaders to acting as mere managers and caretakers.

Smaller churches . . .

1. . . . often behave and function as an extended family.

2. . . . often require the service of the many and few are left inactive.

3. . . . often excel at ministering to those in crises and deep need.

4. . . . often are less consumed with finances than are larger churches.

5. . . . often are more ready to give an ear to missionaries and mission efforts (I'm learning this from personal experience as I travel the country on behalf of MNCH).

6. . . . sometimes are beset with the inter-familial conflict that roils in too many families.

7. . . . sometimes are beset with reactionary mindsets and are stifled by tradition.

8. . . . often lack a healthy balance of demographics.

What are some of your observations regarding small churches and large churches? Which do you prefer?