Tag: church size

Small is out, majority is in

I just read that small churches make up 90%  of the churches in America, and most of those have 75-100 in attendance.  Of course, I already knew that, but it helps to read it somewhere besides my own blog.  Which brings me to a perennial topic — looking for another way to describe small churches other than as small.  

After all, small is only one measure.  Small usually refers to attendance, not buildings.  If we were talking about buildings some small churches wouldn’t be small at all.  But, that’s kind of silly.  “Oh, we go to a big building church.  So sorry you’re attending one of those tiny building churches.”  See what I mean — silly.  

So, I’m reading some guy’s comment on some other guy’s blog last week, and the commentor says something about being from the “majority world.”  Here I’m still calling it the “third world,” which is kind of demeaning and not very PC of me.  For awhile the new jargon was “two-thirds” world, meaning developing countries.  But, this guy calls it the “majority world.”  Meaning: there’s more of us than you.  Which brings me to small churches, again.

We (small churches) are the majority.  Why not call our churches “majority churches?”  

Hi, my name is Chuck and I pastor a majority church.

Sounds great, doesn’t it?  All of a sudden we’re not ecclesiastical outcasts anymore.  No more ducking at the pastors’ conference when you see Reverend I. M. Abigdeal coming.  Nope, you hold your head up, stick  out your hand, and say, “Rev, sorry you megachurch guys are in the minority.  What’s the matter, why aren’t you serving a majority church, like I am?”  

So, from now on this is “Confessions of A Majority Church Pastor.”  Now if I can just get the art department to change my blog header…

‘Small’ no longer means ‘small’

A long time ago, before Al Gore invented the internet, small churches were thought to be, well, small. Which really meant that small churches suffered from —

  • Lack of resources.
  • Limited reach.
  • Low quality.
  • Little impact.
  • Less appeal.

The Five Deadly L’s, I call them. But no more. Now small churches have nothing to apologize for in any of these categories, and here’s why:

  • Resources. Small churches have access to the same resources as megachurches, but may need to partner, collaborate, or join in with others to share and complement. Remember how the internet could make a small business look really big. Works for churches, too.
  • Reach. Small churches now send international missions teams, email prayer partners around the globe, and touch lives directly anywhere. Reach is no longer limited to large congregations.
  • Quality. Years ago Lyle Schaller suggested small churches take advantage of video to provide high quality teaching to their congregations. Now that is easier than ever, but it’s also easier than ever for small churches to produce quality in their own audio, video, websites, printed materials, congregational care, and ministries thanks to low-cost, low-threshold entry for technical solutions.
  • Impact. Small churches like ours are impacting their communities by partnering with others to offer arts, sports, training, help, and economic redevelopment. Church size is no longer a barrier to community impact. When our state Baptist paper reported on our community projects they titled the article, Small Church, Big Impact.
  • Appeal. See my post on the appeal of small churches in of the Long Tail of diversity and choice that many people are seeking. Not everyone wants to be a mini-member of a mega-church. Small churches appeal to the people who like opportunity for involvement and hands-on participation.

That, my friends, is why ‘small’ no longer means ‘small.’ Small, as Seth Godin says, is the new big.

My church isn’t small, it’s mid!

I am proposing a new set of labels to describe a church’s size —

  • Mega-church.  Size: 1000+.  Everybody knows this term, because it’s already in use, so this is an easy one.
  • Meso-church.  Size:  300-to-999.  Meso, according to Wikipedia, means middle or intermediate.  So, this is the in-between size church.  In between mega– and mid-which I am now getting to.
  • Mid-church.  Size: 60-299.  This is “the-size-formerly-known-as-small.”  Mid- is a median size church according to A Field Guide to U. S. Congregations.  The median size church has 200 involved in church, and about 90 in attendance on any given Sunday.  That’s my church, and that size is the mid-point for all churches in the U. S., hence midchurch
  • Micro-church.  Size:  under-60.  This size includes a lot of family churches, and face-to-face groups like house churches.  NBC did a piece on micro-churches here.

Notice that we have four Ms here.  Could almost be a sermon.  But I think this new taxonomy will provide some relief to those of us in churches-formerly-known-as-small.  Now when you go to the pastors’ conference next week, you can exclaim — “I’m pastor of a mid-church.”  Sounds better, don’t you think?  Plus, it’s true, which is always a good thing.  Anybody want to join The Society for the Redesignation of Small Church to Mid-church?