What if Bigger Isn’t Better?

In a land of shrinking congregational sizes, there are many mainline denominational churches with vibrant histories of ministry that are on the ropes and wondering where they’re going to be in a year, or five years.  Or if they’ll be at all.  

For those congregations, there is a perennial favorite target of their attention and aspiration – mega churches.  Ah, if only we had as many people as they do!  If only we had their budget!  If only we could offer their programs!  If only we were successful like they are!  
Oftentimes the aspiration is attended to with a comforting dose of disdain.  Lacking any real mechanism for achieving the status of a mega-church, it’s easy for a congregation to both aspire to be one while criticizing the ones they idolize.  Sure, they have a lot of people coming, but most of them don’t stick around for very long.  Sure, they offer lots of programs, but they’re not really raising up mature Christians.  Sure, they have thousands of people in attendance, but they don’t give them the Gospel.  
Americans are fixated on size as an indicator of success.  Bigger=better, whether you’re at church or McDonalds.  If something is good, why not SuperSize it?  If a little is working, why not a lot?  We’re always after the proverbial more bang for the buck.
I’ve attempted to challenge this notion.  What if bigger isn’t better?  What if the indication of our faithfulness isn’t how many people are here on a Sunday morning?  Show me where in the New Testament churches are evaluated in terms of how big they are, how many programs they offer, how many satellite campuses they operate?  
Bigger might be better in certain situations.  But it might also not be better in certain situations, and how do you know which is true of you?  As paradoxical as it may sound, perhaps the answer is to do a quick head-count and determine whether or not you’re big.  If you’re big, figure out how to make it work.  If you’re not, don’t obsess about how to be big.  Figure out how to be faithful at whatever your current size is.  But let’s not just be silly about numbers.  There are plenty of ways small groups of people can make big impacts – but it may necessitate them beginning to think like small groups of people, rather than small groups of people attempting to act like big groups of people.
This isn’t defeatism.  It may very well be the essence of faith – doing what you can with what you have been given and leaving the outcomes up to the Holy Spirit.  The results may be very surprising – as may be the time when those results are fully understood.  There are others who seem to think similarly.  
People from bigger and more popular blogs, no less!

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