No Flack Jackets at Kids Checkin

This week we’re talking about why small churches are better than big churches.

Small churches don’t have security guards in flack jackets at kids check in.

We do.  Seriously . . . you should see the vests our security guards are sporting for 2010.  They look like the latest in Kevlar protection!  (I’m glad our security dudes have them . . . really . . . with so many kids coming and going we need to make sure that our kids are secure and seen to be secure.)  I know that not all churches do the security vests but all big churches do have some team of people making sure someone doesn’t take the kids . . . they might even be dressed nice.

However . . . small churches don’t need this.

They don’t have them because people know each other.  Deeper than just “knowing” people . . . there is ownership in small churches of the church.  The people that attend own it.  When someone new arrives people notice.

(I gotta admit . . . I’m kinda a sucker for the church experience where kids are chasing each other after the service . . .  everybody feeling like that is a safe thing to do.)

This goes beyond the requisite “let’s all shake hands and welcome people” part of the church service that lots of churches (big and small) do.

People own things that they influence. Ownership happens when people have some of their own “skin in the game”.

Ownership is higher in small churches.  How do we help people own “the church”?


  1. Rich,

    It’s refreshing to hear someone with your perspective reflect on small church context.

    You have offered a couple of observations concerning small churches and i think your insights have merit.

    Perhaps the grass is always greener though, because i would hasten to add that each aspect you identify is definitely a double edge sword.

    For instance, “ownership” might be good thing in a sense. That is, however, until we essentially forget that it’s Jesus’ church. We must never lose sight of the reality that the church belongs to Christ [Ephesians 1.22].

    Not in all cases, of course, but [imhv] many of our ‘small’ churches are formed in the image of fraternal civic ‘clubs’ [a la 1950’s] and the reason they stay small is often the result of some very unchristlike dna and its resulting dynamics.


  2. Sometimes churches stay small because the pastor is preaching hard truth. Even when done lovingly, milktoast Christians often head for the hills. Of course the upside is that the remaining congregation becomes very strong spiritually, which makes them more effective (better tools for the Lord) in their personal lives. Just my 2 cents.

  3. I would say that you have once again (my younger, better looking, balder brother) hit the nail on the head … ownership is the big thing about being small.

    Which i would argue is MOSTLY (say 85%) a good thing… the high level of ownership in small churches breeds many of the most important things that small churches can do well like: taking casseroles to new/lonely/grieving people, calling people who are sick without the sick person telling anyone they are sick, remembering new people’s names the 2nd Sunday they are there, etc,etc.

    I would have to also say that another positive of “ownership” in small churches, is that small churches “own” their own ministry leadership candidates in a way that i haven’t seen large churches do. Small churches give average or below-average people that feel called to ministry the space, forgiveness, relationships, opportunities and time to experiment in ministry in a way that does not happen in most large church contexts that i have been around. Why do they let the below average 20thing become the youth pastor when colleges and seminaries are churning out these people at a breakneck pace? Because he is “our” slightly-too-disorganized-and-not-very-well-spoken youth pastor candidate… that’s why.

    I was given opportunities in a small church that i don’t think i could have ever experienced in a large church context as a late-teen, early-20thing… for that i am not nearly thankful enough to God or that small church nearly enough.

  4. RT @RickWarren: The church that is content with not growing is saying to the rest of the world “You can go to hell”

  5. Whew, that’s strong. I was saved in a small spirit-filled church in 1981 at 19 years old. In my Christian walk, I’ve belonged to 1 large church, the rest small. The small churches that I’ve been affiliated with actually did more true evangelism than the big church. I used to work for Portable Church Industries and there was a church in the Toronto area called the Meeting House. They met in a movie theater. When they started to outgrow the theater, they started another church. This has continued and now, I believe they have about 10 churches and are still growing. They are satellites but have a full staff working at each location. The members are very involved in the ministry and also ministering to their community. When we talk about keeping congregations small, we are not necessarily talking about a small “church”.

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