Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Small Churches

I was having lunch with a friend today and he pointed out that one of the advantages of having a small church is that you can have an all church retreat. I was sharing with him about our weekend with our Lighthouse Christian Fellowship family at Camp Friedenswald.
It got me thinking again about some of the advantages of small churches. Here are a few in my mind:
  • Church wide get away weekends
  • You can know everyone (not just their name)
  • Accountability
  • Family atmosphere
  • Easier to value people over programs
  • Children and youth know the adults
  • Children and youth can have a real role in church
  • When you miss, you're missed
  • You can know the leaders and they know you
  • Because you are small, you are reminded to reach out

These are just a few of the reasons that I see. I do believe that the church should be missional and growing. I don't think churches should want to stay as they are. God's people should always be looking to reach out to others.


I don't think that it takes a church of 500 to 1,000+ before a church should think about planting churches. I believe that small churches should be planting churches. Church planting shouldn't be complex, because church shouldn't be complex. To often, we have made church something that only "church professionals" can be in charge of.

But maybe I am just too simple minded.

What are advantages that you see to smaller churches? Larger churches? What type of things are essential to a church really being a church?


Aaron said...

Man, KG this hits home! I am in the process of planting a church and "being small" is all I know right now. We can have anywhere from 20 to 35 folks on any given Sunday. I think all things you mentioned are benefits to having a small church.

I also agree that we are to grow and not stay the same. It is my job as the pastor to empower/equip the folks in front of me as well as be engaged in growing the church through contacts, relationships, etc.

I am finding out that it is hard to get other leaders to join in on something from the beginning. Folks want to come to an already established church. I remind them that every church started from nothing and that the journey will be very rewarding but difficult.

Even close friends of mine who say they are down with pastoring, mentoring, and starting from scratch are a little hesitant to join in. When the rubber meets the road they want to be apart of something already thriving. This hurts!

There is a part of me that says... "when our church does get up and going, these folks better not come asking to be a part of it." Now I know this is wrong but these are selfish thoughts that go through me head.

All this to say that there is some pyschological battles that come with being a small church but the blessings are plenty.

I know I went on a rabbit trail but I had to vent to someone who knows where I am coming from.

By the way I love the pictures and would love to talk with you via email/phone about your church and what you guys are doing that is working.

I just arrived in California and we started planting our church in February so things are still very new around here for me and my family. Any input would help!

Grace and Peace,

KG said...

I ain't going to lie, it hasn't all been easy. I can relate to the struggle.

But I also want to encourage people of the great blessing and benefit of being a part of a small church community. Relationships, family like, real accountability, etc.

Often people in small churches are looking to "make it" to the next level and miss the value of the present.

I e-mailed you my phone number. Let's talk sometime.

JP Paulus said...

If i can throw in some advantages to large churches (the early Jerusalem church was a megachurch, at least after Acts 2! 3100+)

- Specially trained leaders in specific ministries. For example, full time leaders of Children's ministries can know the law & best practices inside & out, and be able to select the RIGHT assistants, and make sure that the church is following the law

- Have enough leaders of a ministry who are honestly passionate about that ministry (as opposed to doing it, because, well, someone has to do it)

- Have the ability to minister special needs....for example, freed child molesters & rapists. They need to be part of a church, but they can't be near children. A larger church can provide enough people to provide a safe community for both children & adults

- Have more influence in local politics (that canobviously be very bad...but having respect of the community ain't bad)

- have more resources to support each other (i.e. give youth jobs & scholarships, and do so meaningfuly)

- have enough leadership for one leader who is having difficulty to step off leadership without disrupting the church. (i.e. take care of personal struggles or health, etc.). Isn't it hard for leaders to feel free to step away from their duties, even for a weeklong vacation?

- Truly be able to impact their comunity (especially if they are located near high rises)

In some areas, such as where i live near 79th & King Drive, there are 80 churches within a mile. It seems like we need fewer churches (if they are effective) rather than more.

i don't mean to demean the small churches by those comments...but rather, encourage you, should you get significantly bigger, to carry over as best you can, that which you learned as a small church, but then grow to add on some of the above elements

KG said...

I think that you have trumpeted the facts that large churches are valuable. I also think that every church thinks that they need to be large to be useful or effective. Most churches think that they need to be large because large is good. So your reasons are very common belief.

I want to encourage those who are small that there is value in that as well and that God can use small churches.
Thank you for stopping by JP.