Small is the new big

A couple of years ago Debbie and I were watching a fashion program on A&E or some other cable channel that we didn’t ask for but that the cable company gives us anyway.  The fashionistas were discussing the hottest, latest, hippest clothing lines, when one of them said, “Pink is the new black.” 

Puzzled, I turned to Debbie and said, “What does that mean, ‘Pink is the new black?’  That doesn’t even make sense.”  Debbie just looked at me with the pity which kind people have for stray puppies and explained — “this year women are wearing pink when they used to wear black — like to parties, the opera, the ballet, and the symphony.”  Oh.

Fast forward to 2006, and Seth Godin, self-proclaimed marketing wunderkind and change agent,  has a new book out last August titled Small Is The New Big.  Now I realize August was 5 months ago and this is old news, but I only started this blog in December, so I’m catching up.  Seth has personally given me permission to share the title article with you.  (Actually, his website says “copy, share, etc” which I am interpreting personally.  Kind of a new hermeneutic.) 

So click here for a pdf of the article in which Seth mentions churches twice —

  1. Little churches grow faster than worldwide ones.
  2. A small church has a minister with the time to visit you in the hospital when you’re sick.

Two profound insights which, frankly, I found helpful.  But the point of his article, and I assume his book, is that small has definite advantages, and he lists tons of them.  Seth concludes the article by saying, “Small is the new big only when the person running the small thinks big.  Don’t wait.  Get small.  Think big.” 

5 thoughts on “Small is the new big”

  1. Sam, I think it was William Carey who said, “Expect great things from God, attempt great things for God.” That still hasn’t changed. And, Brandon makes a great point — we do serve a big God. Nelson Mandela (I think) said once, “Who are you to play small?” and he was talking about the gift that our great God has given us.

  2. Chuck:
    Thanks for the article link–Godin makes some good points about today’s culture and churches, especially that those running small must think big. I’m curious. What does that look like in smaller congregations? So many of the leaders of smaller congregations that I meet seem to be dealing with feeling inferior because of their church’s size. So how do those leading the small think big? Sounds like an article…

  3. Lindy, does sound like an article, doesn’t it? Part of the “size” problem is the glorification of big churches, with the implication that if you as a pastor can’t grow your church, something is wrong with you. But “growing a church” is not what the kingdom and all the other stuff Jesus said is about. What if we measured the percentage of members involved in feeding the hungry, tutoring a child, mentoring a teen, sitting with a shut-in, or discipling a friend? What if our outreach was to transform, but not necessarily attract? A lot of big churches have a lot of spectators. Small churches are better at involving a higher percentage of their people — because we have to! No one else is available. Okay, sorry to go on for so long, but no one needs to apologize for small size. Small thinking, yes; small size, no. — Chuck

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