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Monday, April 13, 2009

XXVIII. What's a good size for a church?

What is the perfect size for a church? Keep in mind this is not referring to the Spiritual temple, which is you! It is referring to a physical building of worship.

Here are the results of the latest poll conducted from February 28 to April 10 which asked, "What is the perfect size for a church?".

  • 48% said 100-500 people
  • 36% said it doesn't matter
  • 8% said 0-100 people
  • 8% said 1000 or more people
  • 0% said 500-1000 people

Assumptions and observations:

  1. Those who picked 0-100 are the traditionalist Christian. Someone who likes small groups in order to get to know all the people. They are afraid of growth because it disrupts the flow of familiarity. It could also be because these people are control freaks who like to maintain control over situations. If the church congregation gets too big they lose control over certain issues. And that really frightens them. The pros for a small church: some have already been mentioned. There is the familiarity and closeness of people. Everybody knows everybody else. There is a sense of comfort. Nothing really changes so you know what to expect. You can see when things start to get out of hand. The pastor of the church can deal with everyone. This is his flock and he can take care of 100 people or less. The cons of this size are: No growth. people become complacent with what they have become. There is no movement in the community. They tend to stay in their own doors. The leaders become almost dictatorial. Too many of them are related which can cause bickering. Sometimes the church from the outside looks unfriendly. Those who attend have been there forever with very few new Christians.
  2. Those who picked 100-500 are your suburban mainstream congregations with city influence. They are more open to change. They are a little more laid back than the traditionalist. They see the necessities of what has always been done but they are willing to incorporate new ideas to keep it growing. Pros: It's still small enough for a comfort zone. You can get into small groups yet still feel like you are part of the church as a whole. If there are any changes you feel a part of it. People need you to do your part. It is still small enough to where elders can function and help the pastor without stepping into his visionary gift. Cons: changes mean people changes as well. It becomes a revolving door for Christians. They like it at first but can't grasp on to the changes as they happen so many tend to leave and come back only to leave again. Only the core will stay with some new Christians in attendance. But that means you have a mature congregation.
  3. Those who would have picked 500-1000 are your suburban non mainstream congregation. This church is all about change. Pros: They are on the verge of doing something drastic. They are well respected and have made a name for themselves. People hear about the great things that are happening at the place. Small groups take and form their own ministries because there are enough people of similar interests to make an impact. Cons: There is nothing really stable about this church. The constant change forces people to make a decision, either stay and wait it out or leave. Most who stay are either in leadership or they are new Christians who like the fast pace environment. But this leaves an immature congregation. You tend to lose your identity in the church. Yes you are apart of a small group but you seem less valuable as a whole. And many types of people start to feel segregated against. This is probably why no one picked this size.
  4. Those who picked 1000 + are those who apparently are leaders of their congregation. They want to see numbers. Not so they can get a reputation but so they feel they are doing what they are called to do. They feel more like an evangelist instead of a pastor. They want to feed a community not just a flock. Pros: You have mass tons of people who can work. The money that comes in to these places can change the world. They have programs for everybody. Cons: The megachurch mentality. A feeling of superiority, like everything they do must be right since they are so large. The leadership gets lost into the crowd. No one knows who is making the decisions about the church. All identity is lost.
  5. Those who picked it doesn't matter are probably those who aren't leadership per se but are still close to where all the action is. They are the ones who do the ministries or are really involved with them. They get angry or at least depressed when people don't follow their ideas. They don't understand why people argue about issues. They just want to see action and be a part of it.

Keep in mind, the size of the church probably doesn't really matter. What matters is, are you impacting your community? Maybe a church of 100 is a good thing because the community is only 1000 people in size anyway. But then again maybe a large church is good because it's a place where anyone can go and get some kind of program for them. Then again maybe 100-500 is best because you have the best of both worlds. If you grow too fast then start more sister churches in other communities. If you don't grow so fast then stay around and learn.

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