That’s right fellas – we all knew that anyway didn’t we…
I was pondering yesterday what the ideal size would be for a church.
My raw thoughts:
If there are a couple of thousand of you then you can do some incredible stuff with the resources you have. You can run quality programs, administrate well and deliver services at a level that a medium sized church just can’t compete with. You may struggle for a sense of community when you gather, but then ‘small groups’ may resolve this. Your gatherings have the potential to be very attractive and for those in the saucer you may have the most appeal by far. Maybe ‘huge’ is the key?
If there are 50 or 60 of you then you can all know each other to some degree and retain a sense of family, but you also have enough resources to do some things well. You can’t deliver what the megachurch can, but you know that and you wouldn’t choose to try and emulate them. You can have a very robust community if you are content to operate at that size and don’t struggle with ‘congregation envy’.
If there are 4-14 of you then you have a different animal again. You don’t need any kind of public facility nor do you need to meet at the same time each week. You can’t do many of the things normally considered to be ‘church’ in larger gatherings, but you can develop the feeling of being an extended family very well. You can flex easily, adapt to circumstances and maximise communal interaction.
Perhaps the only things that disturbs me is when a church sets out to be what its not. The ‘say g’day to the person next to you’ thing in large churches as a way of ‘building community’ only seems to highlight what is absent in a Sunday service, while watching a bunch of 50 elderly people try to emulate Hillsong is equally cringeworthy. I’m not sure what the equivalents are in a small gathering – maybe having a preacher speaking to 10 people could looks pretty dopey. (I have heard of a house church that set up the sound system, chairs in rows, data projector etc all in a lounge room… that’s different 🙂 )
So is there a size at which church functions optimally?
Or is it just a case of it being great that we have diversity because then people can slot into the community where they feel most at home?
The reason I ask is because it seems that our mission is almost always to grow bigger and by that I mean 50-100-200-500-1000 etc. I am yet to find a church that consciously says we want to grow and develop, but 50 is our max or 100 is our max before we plant/multiply or whether you call it.
Its partly why church planting has been such a lame duck in our own denomination – because no one is ever ‘ready’ to part with people to start anew.