Over my almost 16 years in ministry (as of this writing) I’ve continually come across an issue that seems very difficult to balance:
congregation size VS congregation health
For the church to be a healthy church, it HAS to grow, no doubt about that. Reproduction is to be at the core of the Christian lifestyle. But with growth comes problems (just ask the Apostles about that).
One of those is the maintaining of close-knit community. Every member is supposed to be connected to the body as a whole, but when a church becomes too large, that’s very difficult to maintain. Though I’ve not had to deal with the issue directly as of yet, my idea at this point is that when the church became large enough that the community was being threatened, then it’s time to send out a fairly large group of people to begin a new church. Of course, that has it’s problems too – but I don’t think that sacrificing the ability to have a close community for the sake of numbers is an option.
There’s also the issue of effectiveness. A larger sized church has much more in the way of resources and is able to pull-off more events, outreaches, etc. that engage or penetrate the community around them. A smaller church has trouble with this simply because of the lack of resources. Smaller churches, if they can get beyond their own differences and denominational hang-ups, can do events together to help combine resources… but I know there are great difficulties there too, as each leadership team will want to be very careful how the resources entrusted to them are used.
These are just a few examples – and ones that I need to be praying about (more often than I do). What do you think? Any suggestions, ideas, or comments about it?