No matter how much I have grown to despise the discussion, it seems I cannot avoid it entirely. Almost any conversation about church, it seems, inevitably gravitates in some form toward the Bigger is Better or Great Things Come in Small Packages debate.
It is not always an actual debate. In fact it is probably more often than not simply an expression of personal preference. But I have come to loathe the whole subject, having come to believe that the comparisons are largely irrelevant. There are some great large churches, and there are some great small churches; There are some horrendous large churches, and there are some pathetic small churches. And there are good and bad churches of all sizes in between. The issue is not which size is best, but rather: Is your particular church – and my particular church – healthy, God-honoring, and fruitful?
That said, and with no desire to encourage debate, I found an observation by Neil Cole to be interesting:
There are millions of people in smaller congregations across the country who live with a feeling that they are failures because their church isn’t as big as the megaplex congregation down the street. This is sad and should not be the case.
A global survey conducted by Christian Schwartz found that smaller churches consistently scored higher than large churches in seven out of eight qualitative characteristics of a healthy church. A more recent study of churches in America, conducted by Ed Stetzer and Life Way Research, revealed that churches of two hundred or less are four times more likely to plant a daughter church than churches of one thousand or more. The research seems to even indicate that the pattern continues—the smaller the size of the church the more fertile they are in planting churches.
It pains me that so many churches and leaders suffer from an inferiority complex when in fact they could very well be more healthy and fruitful than the big-box church down the street.
I am not suggesting that the mega church is something we need to end, I am simply saying that we need other kinds of churches to truly transform our world. I also do not want people in huge churches to think that just because they have more people and more money that they are more blessed by God. The stats tell us that ten smaller churches of 100 people will accomplish much more than one church of 1000.
Read the rest of Cole’s article: Is Bigger Really Better?
And again, while not wanting to prompt debate, I do welcome any comments about Cole’s observations.