Some churches are big, other churches are little. Some churches are impersonal and difficult to get plugged into, others are friendly, and it’s easy to get connected .
In my experience, it’s not necessarily the big that are unfriendly and the small that are instantly engaging. I have been to churches that are massive and yet are warm and feel like a big family and small ones that don’t focus on outsiders to the point that they become clique-ish and cold. So you don’t have to choose between being big numerically and having a strong and thriving community. They aren’t opposites. In fact, community isn’t really an issue of magnitude but mindset. More intentionality than immensity. It is something that must be fostered, developed, and pursued, regardless of the size of the church. And it won’t happen on accident.
Now, I know some people are against “big” churches and like smaller ones better. I totally get that, and with the average church in America being under 100 people there are tons of small fellowships out there to plug into. For me personally, the question of big or little is answered with this question, “Do I want more or less people to go to hell?” And you know what–every time I ask myself that the answer is always the same, LESS!
So as we preach the word, worship, take communion and try to make Jesus famous, our prayer should be that the Lord would add to the church daily those who are being saved until every lost soul is found! (Acts 2:42,47) By God’s grace, we have seen that kind of consistent growth at fresh life and we are pleased because we are passionate and intentional about evangelism. But as the numbers grow, so does the challenge of maintaining community. Like I said, it doesn’t happen on accident.
Can I admit something to you? We have not done a good enough job of that. As I evaluate our church, those who serve as volunteers tend to get plugged in the best. Within the ushers, kids ministry, new believers counselors and other ministries there are essentially smaller groups of those that serve together. In a perfect world, everybody that went to a church would serve–but even with 300 volunteers that still leaves 75 percent of our church out. (Btw if you are reading this and don’t serve at your local church–what are u waiting for?) And then we have had other little random small groups and niche ministries here and there, some that have done well, others so/so, some doing about as well as a screen door on a submarine but none affecting the whole church like we would want them to. Overall, I’d give us a C+ in having a plan in our approach to community. It’s been more buckshot than sniper-rifle (to use a very Montana analogy.) A little bit of everything and hoping to hit something.
Dissatisfied with this low grade, about two months ago I came into a pastors meeting and announced that we would take the whole summer to rethink, pray about, and retool our entire approach to community. As a result we have decided to simplify–aggressively. To prune back, even good ministries and events, so we can do a few things well. Some people will miss those good things. And, I’m sure that in the future people will come along and suggest other new and different good things. We will rememeber that we can’t do everything and are willing to scale back in order to strategically pursue greatness. We are defining greatness this way: a church-wide approach to small groups that will provide discipleship, meaningul relationships and accountability to the whole body. The entire staff is pumped up and we can’t wait till we launch in the fall.
So, back to my original question–big church or little church? I’d say it doesnt matter, do the best to pursue community with whatever size church God gives you.
Something to think about.
–I gotta go–i have been in line at the DMV this whole time and I am next up to renew my registration. Bye.