Most of my life, I attended churches with 50 or less people. The faces would change from time to time but the numbers wouldn't. A friend of mine and I were talking about this phenomenon about a year ago. She told me that after being a pastor at several dynamic and growing churches, she was puzzled by church that seemed to be stagnant. Finally, she decided to "interview" all the members and compile a survey and what she discovered surprised her. They didn't want to grow.
Oh, they said they wanted to grow if they were asked that question directly and they were even involved in "activities" to promote outreach and growth but their responses to other questions clearly indicated they did not want to grow. You see, there was a very prevalent theme of the church being like family, they knew everyone, etc. There is nothing wrong with this but rather than making excuses like “We would grow more if we had more resources” or “A church that is growing more than us must not really be preaching the Gospel”, let's call it what it is. You like belonging to an intimate small church which focuses primarily on ministering to and teaching established Christians as opposed to one that is more evangelistic in nature.
Bear in mind though that growth must occur if something is “living” and a healthy, growing church must not only grow internally. It needs to be growing externally as well. This is applicable to a large church as well. Otherwise it is not a small church or large church; it is a stagnant church and eventually it will choke itself out and whither away unless something changes.
We must never forget that Jesus commanded us to go into all the world rather stay in our comfort zone inside four walls with just our “family”. We are servants and as such we are to be much more concerned about doing the Father's business rather our own personal comfort. Besides, if you like small groups, you can always volunteer to lead a small group. :wink:
Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/wonderlane/5535814745/
WOW! Kay you hit the nail right on the center of the head! This blog speaks truth about the phenomenon of why some small churches fail to grow. No one wants to admit that often the biggest hindrance is that members don't like or want change. Comfort with the familiar outweighs the demand to obey the Great Commission. But ssh you members of small churches that read this blog. You better not let them know about this revelation or the number in your church might soon be lessened by one member ...guess who that would be?
I did understand the spirit of your blog and did not take it as a broad brush of criticism. Amen and amen to all you said! So true! If it weren't for smaller churches, few would even get an opportunity to minister. I also agree that many small churches are hatcheries and church planters that train, equip and send many to minister all over the world! They key to a healthy vine of any size is maintaining a healthy connection to the Root.
God bless you!