Karl Vater has an interesting article at Christian Today today on “How to Tell if a Small Church is Strategic or Stuck).
One of his points is that some churches are ‘small for a while’. Vater writes:
This is the spot most small church pastors think they’re in. I know I did. For over two decades in three different churches I thought serious growth was just around the corner. It was a long corner.
As it turned out, my church was small for much more than a while (it still is), so we started being intentional about it.
But some small churches are only small for a while. The problem is, no one knows how long that will last. So here’s my suggestion.
While you’re a small church, be a great small church. Don’t put all your energy into growth. Work on health. It’s better to become a healthy church that grows than an unhealthy one that grows, right?
If your church is small right now, but is being healthy during the time you’re small, you’re not stuck, you’re strategic.
Most churches in America are small.
There are 300,000 churches in America. If every person in America went to church this Sunday, each church would only have just over 1000 people in attendance.
That’s a LOT of churches.
And a LOT of small churches.
I agree with Vater that most pastors think their church will only be small for a while.
And most never turn the corner from small to ‘larger’ (whatever that means).
We’ve equated small churches many time with words like unhealthy, stagnant, dying, or stuck.
And we sure have our share of those kinds of churches.
But we also have a bunch of churches that are healthy, pastored by a guy (or gal) that feels guilty that their church is small.
That’s too bad.
Small isn’t necessarily bad, as Vater says, if you’re healthy.
And that’s the problem for many of us (myself included) many times.
Can a church remain small and truly be ‘healthy’?
If people are consistently being introduced to Jesus, shouldn’t the numbers grow?
And if people are being discipled to be more like Jesus, shouldn’t that spark some semblance of evangelism and growth?
In many churches, growth is happening, but the numbers don’t show it. More people are simply moving away than moving in. Sometime you have to grow 20% to grow 10% on paper. The growth chart looks to be stagnant.
On the other side, some churches are so inwardly focused on growing deep that they ignore that world they are called to reach. They think they’re healthy… and I would tend to differ.
So… how do you describe a healthy church? What makes a church healthy?
And have you spent time feeling guilty just because your church is ‘small’?
I’d love to hear your thoughts.
The church’s job is not to grow, multiply, or expand. The church’s job is not to take back the culture for Jesus. The church’s job is not even to survive. The church’s job is to be the church—to be the faithful people of God who organize their common life together in such a way that they image God to all creation. Sadly, most American churches do not image God so much as they image American story of bigger, better, stronger, higher, and faster. The story of God is quite different. This story says the last will be first and the first will be last. Authentically Christian leadership does not embrace success as a worthy objective. Instead the Christian leader must embrace the way of descent, and the cruciform life of dying to self and others. The American way is up. The Jesus way is down.keep reading