RETHINKING SMALL CHURCHES

Ed Stetzer shares some excellent evaluative thoughts on small churches.  – Steve

BY ED STETZER

Many American Christians have this idea that if a church is big, it must be better. Not necessarily. Our obsession with “bigness” can be a reflection of American values, rather than biblical ones.

Too often we pull our cultural values into our grid for measuring church success. Size is not necessarily the best measurement for church health.

Is it ok for churches to be small sometimes? Absolutely. But before I give you three questions that can show if your small church is healthy, let me ask three questions that demonstrate when it is not OK for a church to stay small.

What does a small unhealthy church look like?

Is your church staying small even when the community around you is lost and growing?

There is really no excuse for this. Every church in America has un-churched or de-churched people in their neighborhood. Moreover, 584 unengaged, unreached people groups are estimated to be living in North America right now.

As the people of God, on mission with God, we are called to spread the good news and make disciples (Matt. 28:18-20).

Scripture reminds us that we are called to water and plant while recognizing that the actual growth is God’s business (1 Cor. 3:6). Let’s make sure to not blame our lack of growth on God’s will, when often we are not planting and watering in the first place.

Is your church staying small because you refuse to engage the culture around you?

According to our research in Transformational Church, the healthiest churches are those who are actively seeking to understand and invest in their communities. Some churches have built a bubble around themselves as protection from the world.

Sadly, these churches refuse to acknowledge the deeper root of the world’s problems—sin—resides in their own hearts (Rom. 5:12), causing them to either implode or die out.

Hasn’t Jesus called us to be kingdom witnesses in a dark and broken world (Matt. 5:16)? How can we do that if we don’t engage those around us?

Is your church staying small because you love your fellowship, but not the lost?

Too many churches—whether there are 30 members or 3,000 members—are full of internally focused consumers primarily concerned about themselves.

We should seek to cultivate intimate fellowship and care for one another in the church family. However, we have to be intentional about reaching out to those around us with the good news of Jesus.

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