Leaders like it large
- At our best, leaders like it large because that means more people are hearing, believing and maturing in the gospel. More people have found a spiritual home. More people are exercising their gifts in ministry More people are giving their lives in Christ’s service. More resources can be raised and deployed in reaching a lost world.
- At our silliest, we like it large because it validates us, puts us on the platform, and gives a counter-narrative to a secular society. Those ego-driven needs easily shade into sin.
- But we benefit from larger churches. If you’re running an evangelistic course at the moment, the chances are it was developed with the resources and excellence of a larger church behind it.
Members like it small
- At our best, members like it small because relationships, friendships, are easier in a circle than a crowd. Remembering 80 people is easier than remembering 250. Recognising someone is hurting, or delighted, or praising, or needs some truth, is simpler when you know everyone.
- At our silliest, we like it small because we control it, guard it, and shape it in a way we like. Everything around us changes, but this place, these chairs, these coffee cups are ours. Those ego-driven needs easily shade into sin.
- But we benefit from smaller churches. There’s a reason why most churches don’t race past the 200 barrier, and most of them hover below 75; they are human scale, where we can know and be known, and pastors know all their sheep.
At our best, we leaders know why our members like it small.
At our best, we members know why our leaders call us to grow.
But can they live together?
In the world of cartoons elephants are scared of mice.
I suspect that in the real world, mice get squished by elephants.
They’re not best buddies
But I’m convinced that in church-world they can and should live together. A larger church can and should work at embedding the biblical values of fellowship and love in our gatherings – and that has to mean a significant focus in the small group structures. Self-indulgence in the big event is selfishness. And smaller churches should have an equivalent gentle restlessness wth the status quo. Self-centredness in the small event is also selfishness.
But together, we can inspire and change each other, and embed the best of each other’s habits in our own churches.