9. Persecuted Churches
While we're writing about the inevitability of numerical growth, our books and blogs are being read by church leaders in regions of the world where the church is undergoing massive oppression. They want help, but some of our church growth messages are adding to their burden, not relieving it.
This is not a theory to me. I've sat with pastors in persecuted churches who have told me heartbreaking stories. Entitled church leaders from well-to-do countries have told them their churches would be bigger if they had more faith or adopted their church growth methods. But even a rudimentary look at their neighborhood would tell anyone with any sensitivity that those methods won't work here. And as to not having enough faith? All I could think, as I sat in their tiny homes and churches, was "if I had half your faith, I'd be a giant of a man."
10. Transitional Churches
Many churches exist in communities that are undergoing massive demographic shifts. Leading a church to health and growth is a huge challenge when the sands aren’t constantly shifting beneath your feet. But when they are, it’s that much harder.
I know pastors in communities where 20-25 percent of the population moves out every year, only to be replaced by a new group of people who are unlikely to stay longer than three to five years. Certainly these new people bring great opportunity, but it takes an enormous amount of work to maintain a church’s current size – let alone grow numerically – when you lose that many people every year.
11. Strategically Small Churches
Yes, some churches are small intentionally. And they play a vital role in the Great Commission. I’ll explore some of what that means in my next post, How to Tell If Your Small Church Is Strategic Or Stuck.
Again – No Excuses
None of this should be taken as an excuse to settle for less or to stay stuck.
It's also not a a slam on big churches. Big churches are great. But they're not for everyone. We must always provide vibrant, healthy alternatives for people who prefer to worship, minister and be discipled in a smaller environment.
Healthy small churches are one essential element among many in fulfilling the Great Commission.
Copyright © 2015 by the author or Christianity Today/Leadership Journal.
Click here to read our guidelines concerning reprint permissions.