Look Again at All Those Small Churches
The Church tends to look to larger congregations as the flagship churches of the future. They have the denominational clout. To pastor a large church is the dream “call” of many a professional leader. Large churches have land and facilities to die for! They have professional staffs to take care of things that volunteers take care of in the small churches.
But large churches are few, only about 5% of all congregations.
If you study the statistics, you’ll see that many large congregations are struggling with giving and attendance, too. I noticed during our Ambassador visits, that one of the congregations listed as having about 400 in average attendance in the denominational yearbook had only about 30 worshiping on the spring morning we attended. Why? we wondered.
In a small church with an average attendance of 30, everyone knows that attendance is down because Mrs. Miller is ill and the Jones Family is on vacation!
Decline is a bit harder to notice when a congregation of 1000 loses half its members as compared to a church of 100 losing 20 members. But the decline is there, too.
Still, we tend to try to mimic the very few large churches. We may be missing the foundational work that is happening in small church communities and their importance as anchors of the faith in the shifting tides of demographic change.
Tomorrow’s church leaders are just as likely to come from the small neighborhood churches as they are from the corporate or megachurches—perhaps more likely. They will have had “on the job” training!
A lot of this has to do with why people choose the church they join in the first place and why they stick with it when the rewards are generally personal. No glory—at least not on earth.