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The problems most people have with small churches aren’t about size, they’re about sickness. And sickness can happen in churches of any size.

"I don’t like small churches.”

Yes, people have said that – and things like it – to me.

I get that small churches aren’t for everyone. But saying “I prefer big churches” is the way most people state it.

To tell a small church pastor that you don’t like small churches isn’t just a statement of preference. It’s rude.

It also betrays a massive misunderstanding of the realities and challenges of pastoring. Not to mention the value of small churches. So when I hear statements like that, my knee-jerk feeling is to want to strike back.

But I’ve learned that the root cause behind such arrogance and prejudice is usually a combination of pain and ignorance – so I sympathize a bit. And I’ve come to a very different conclusion about about the dangers of valuing churches according to their size.

(By the way, I’ve also had people tell me they don’t like big churches. Some have even told me megachurches are wrong to be so big.

Despising big churches is just as bad as despising small churches. As for me, while I pastor and work with small churches, I don’t have a problem with big churches. I think they’re great, too.)

Small Size Isn’t the Problem – Small Thinking Is

Like most prejudices, people’s problems with small churches aren’t about what they think it’s about.

So I’ve come up with a reasonable response for such unreasonable statements.

I’ll start with the question,“What don’t you like about small churches?”

Their response is usually along these lines:

Small churches are

  • Inward-focused
  • Threatened by change
  • Filled with petty infighting and jealousies
  • Settling for less
  • Not reaching their communities
  • Poorly managed

To which my response is, “I don’t like those small churches either.”

It’s About Sickness, Not Size

Seriously, who would want to attend or pastor a church with those characteristics? If you do, both you and the church have bigger problems than being small.

The problems most people have with small churches aren’t about size, they’re about sickness.

And sickness can happen in churches of any size.

But what if you found a small church that was

  • Innovative
  • Friendly
  • Outward-looking
  • Missional
  • Generous
  • Worshipful?

The good news is, there’s no “what if?” about it. You can find small churches like that. They’re everywhere!

I know, because I’ve been in a lot of them.

I pastor one.

And there are a whole lot of small churches that may not look like that yet, but they’re working very hard to get there.

The Right Way To Judge Churches

Let’s stop making assumptions about all small churches based on bad experiences with some small churches. Each one deserves to stand or fall on its own.

As Jesus put it, “Stop judging by mere appearances, and make a right judgment.” (John 7:24)

There are healthy and unhealthy churches of every size. That should be our only basis for judgment – and our only measure of success.

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Michael Wright

commented on May 10, 2016

I like my small church it's the best church experience I've ever had. We don't have to worry about performing because we are more like a family than a group

Joseph Engle

commented on May 10, 2016

Amen

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