“How can you possibly say that a church of 100 is as valuable as a church of 10,000?”
Yes, I was actually asked that question.
I ignored the insult and answered it this way: I’m not saying that a church of 100 is as valuable as a church of 10,000. Or vice versa. I would never say that.
For two reasons:
Reason #1: As I wrote in The Grasshopper Myth, comparing small churches to megachurches is like comparing peas to pumpkins, or roses to redwoods. Each has a purpose, but those purposes are too different to determine a relative value.
A contractor building a barn may not see any value in a rose. But a husband looking for a way to tell his wife “I’m sorry for missing our anniversary – again” is unlikely to get much help from a redwood tree. Except maybe to build himself a doghouse.
Reason #2: Churches aren’t supposed to be in any kind of competition with each other. Not by size or anything else. So the foundation of the question is flawed.
Instead of comparing roses to redwoods, I’d like to propose a way to compare apples to apples without participating in the “who’s better?” game.
How about these two questions, side-by-side:
- What are the benefits of 10,000 people worshiping in a megachurch led by one pastor?
- What are the benefits of 10,000 people worshiping in 100 small churches led by 100 pastors?
Now that’s apples to apples.
It’s Not Really 10K
Actually, that’s not even a fair comparison, because in any city with a church of 10,000 there are probably 1,000 small churches with 100,000 attending. That’s reality. Small churches outnumber megachurches by 1,000 to 1. And small church members outnumber megachurch members by 10 to 1.
Nevertheless, we’ll stick with the 10K baseline for now. Apples to apples.
Some Benefits of 10,000 Believers In One Megachurch
- Greater unity of vision
- Pastors can delegate tasks
- Ministries tailored to different family members
- Evangelism through big outreach events
- The fun and excitement of worshiping in a big crowd
- Multiple paid staff
- Greater consistency
- More quality control
- An easier onramp for first-time guests
- Buildings that can host larger ministries (conferences, concerts, etc.)
- Higher community visibility
- Multiple small group options
- and more
Some Benefits of 10,000 Believers In 100 Small Churches
- Pastors do more hands-on pastoring
- The churches can fit in communities of all sizes
- The congregations can be a reflection of each neighborhood’s personality
- Intimacy of worship for people intimidated by big crowds
- Every member can play an important role
- More opportunities for pastors of varying gift mixes
- Leadership failures have less visibility and do less damage
- Greater accountability
- More chances to experiment
- More chances to fail
- More chances to plant new churches
- More chances to succeed
- 100 venues and worship styles
- and more
Let’s Stop Competing and Start Working Together
The work of the Holy Spirit in neither enhanced or diluted by the size of the crowd.
We need each other.
Competition and jealousy have no place in the body of Christ. Just as the eye can’t tell the hand, “I don’t need you!”, the megachurch can’t tell the small church, “I don’t need you.” Or vice versa.
We all have something to bring. So let’s all bring what we have.
Copyright © 2016 by the author or Christianity Today/Leadership Journal.
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