If you are leading a healthy and effective house church, you may face some criticism for not getting bigger. But most people will start with the assumption that your size is appropriate for your calling.
If you are leading a healthy and effective big church, you may face some criticism for being too big. But most people will start with the assumption that your size is appropriate for your calling.
But if you are leading a healthy and effective small to midsize church, you are most likely facing a constant barrage of criticism for not getting bigger.
- External criticism and internal criticism.
- Intentional criticism and unintentional criticism.
- Criticism disguised as an attempt to help you get bigger and criticism that’s not disguised at all.
What you will receive very little of is the assumption that your size is appropriate for your calling.
Why are the micro-mini church and the megachurch generally considered to be at an appropriate size for their mission (as they should be), but the in-between sizes are considered inadequate at best, and a failure at worst?
Our Size Is Not A Problem
No wonder small churches and their leaders often feel stuck. We are.
But we’re not necessarily stuck as far as health and effectiveness are concerned. Small and mid-size churches are stuck in an in-between zone that makes people assume we’re unhealthy and broken even when we’re not.
Certainly, most small church pastors want their church to grow. And that’s perfectly understandable. In fact, it concerns me when they don’t want to grow.
So I’m grateful for help to get stuck churches unstuck, unhealthy churches healthy, and dying churches growing again.
But helping to fix a small church’s problems is not the same as treating a small church like it is the problem.
Starting With Wrong Assumptions
If you’re overseeing a house church, most of the information written for you assumes house churches are a good thing and the material is designed to help you do better ministry at your current size. It’s the same for those pastoring a big church.
But if you’re in the middle, in a small or mid-size church, almost all the material aimed at you starts with the assumption that there’s something wrong with your current size.
Churches on either end of the size spectrum are usually seen as fulfilling their calling. But those in the middle? Not so much.
This does not leave the small church pastor (the vast majority of us) feeling encouraged and inspired. It keeps us discouraged and exhausted.
When almost everything written for your small church assumes there’s something inherently wrong with you because of your size, we don’t feel helped, we feel belittled – again.
Strengths Worth Building On
Every church leader I know is aware that we can learn from house churches (cell churches, organic churches) about how to lead more personally. And most of us, including me, want to learn what we can from big churches, too.
But when a small church pastor shows up, we assume they’re there to shut up and listen, not for what they might be able to teach us.
If we really want to help small churches get unstuck and healthy, we need to have more dialog, less monologue.
We need to help small churches build on their strengths.
And to do that, we need to know what those strengths are.
And to do that, we need to know small churches have strengths worth building on.
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