Smaller is Better

Most of my working years have been in churches that consider themselves large . . . at least large in the context that they serve. Not large in a “we’re buying a sports stadium” sort of way but large enough to be rare amongst our closest neighbor churches.

I am biased . . . I think that bigger churches represent health and growth. Healthy things grow.

But you know . . . smaller is better.

People choose to attend small churches way more than large churches! Almost 60% of people who attend church choose to attend a church smaller than 100 people. (If you look at churches less than 500 people . . . than the number if 95%!) They are picking against the large and deciding that smaller is better.

On the personal level . . . after years of listening to people who aren’t happy with a “big church” they always choose to go to some small church . . . not to the other “big church” 25 minutes down the road.

This week I want to explore some areas where I think “small church” has seriously outpaced “big church”. (and I’ll try to get through the week without just talking about getting people to attend small groups) Instead of looking to the churches of 10,000+ that literally 99.9% of all church goers decide against . . . I think we can learn something from the small.

How about you? Virtue in the small? Or Bigger is better?


  1. This should be an interesting discussion. Heard a Tony Campolo podcast a couple of weeks ago; according to his stats the average giving by someone in a small church is 1/9th that in a mega-church (his term). As to stewardship, how much more expensive is it to maintain a number of smaller churches than 1 larger church? Personally, the churches I have been in that were smaller than 100 people were toxic, very unwelcoming. So, let’s see your evidence for small churches outpacing (let alone “seriously outpac[ing]”) larger churches. ~ Russ

  2. Well as someone who has pastored small churches under 150, let me add that there is an attraction for people attending to know and be known, which is a normal human condition. The downside of that smallness is more controllers in key positions; some have left to go to larger churches, which was part of our mission. 🙂 They found in a large context they couldn’t pout or politic or cause panic the same way they could in a ‘small’ church. Having said all that the emerging culture still likes to be media demonstrates that and they like seeing and being seen. I am not sure small groups are the answer in a time starved culture where one more commitment is one more commitment. The answer is what is the purpose and mission, whether larger or small and are you getting it down or just rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic?

  3. The best small churches are the mission minded small churches who stay small as they plant other churches. I think of Henry Blackaby as a great example of this. Small churches multiplying!

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