I hope that title caught your attention. In all honesty, I can probably say that my church is not as large as yours is. However, this title is a little funny look at the way we sometimes compare ourselves to one another. We often get caught up on how big a church is. Many like to boast that they go to such and such church, “You know the big one on the corner of such and such“. With so no lack of pride we will tell of the great sanctuary and the stain glass windows. Or maybe we will point out the multiple classrooms, the coffee shop or the bookstore. There is nothing wrong with this. Unless we put our measure of success upon how big our church is. Different size churches can have great success in their place in God’s plan. The apostle Paul wrote, “And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord.” (1 Corinthians 12:5).
In truth most churches in the world have less than 100 people on their rolls. The bulk of churches of the world are small to medium congregations that vary from 5-250 active members (I specify active because active members are the only ones who contribute to the mission of the church – don’t fool yourself). The major growths in Christianity around the world are brought from small churches that grow into medium churches or who plant other small churches. These churches are different in their purpose and design than larger churches. They have their own positive and negative attributes.
Small churches (less than 100) have high levels of member commitment. The members are also more consistent in their tithes and offerings, and volunteer work. They have less of a staff and therefore dedicate more of their budget to missionary work. They will likely have a bi-vocational pastor, and because of their small size, he will be easily available to the membership. The membership is likely to be aware of the burden on the clergy and are more likely to assist the pastor with his duties and donate food and clothing to him and his family to ease his financial burdens. There is a genuine care in the membership for one another. Evidence of this is that these churches are likely to have a food closet that is open to any members of the local church. Membership in these churches are generally aligned from family and close friendships, and an occasionally new comer who was invited to attend and then joined the church.
Their Achilles heel of an older small church is that they are likely to have a good portion of their budget tied up in building maintenance. They are also likely to have most of their membership in being 65 or older. They are also likely to have no children. As a general rule their membership is not seeking to increase membership. If this is the case for a small church, then they are a dead church. Unless a change is brought in their evangelism they will no longer exist. For the majority of small churches who are active in evangelism, they will soon grow either in church planting other churches and missionary work, or they will increase in size and take other responsibilities and outreached in the community.
Medium sized churches of congregations of 101-250 active members are more likely to open their buildings up for use to outside organizations that serve a service to the community. Those may be the scouts, a food bank, a day care center, a meeting place for AA or NA meetings and such. They are likely to have a free library available to members instead of a bookstore or a coffee shop. Their main interests are likely to see the membership grow through discipleship classes, small group studies, consistent Wednesday evening Bible studies, Tuesday evening prayer meetings and these things. They will have active committees to care for different needs of the church, its membership, and the outreach programs. They are likely to have a lively children’s ministry, and may even have a certified school for certain age ranges.
As you can see there is a great service that the small and medium churches perform to the growth of Christianity, missions, and in service to the community. So if you’re in a small church, don’t sweat it. Enjoy the fellowship, get involved with the mission, and share the name of Jesus!