Small Church Ministry
Is Your Church Measuring Health Or Size? They’re Not The Same Thing
In the same way that a healthy elephant is bigger than a healthy rabbit, a church's size has nothing to do with its relative health – or relative value.

What weighs more, 100 pounds of bricks or 100 pounds of feathers?

It’s an old riddle. One that makes you facepalm yourself if you get it wrong.

The riddle works because it plays on our preconceptions and our tendencies to hear what we want to hear. Bricks weigh more than feathers, of course, but the answer is deceptively simple.

They’re the same.

Whether bricks or feathers, 100 pounds is 100 pounds. You just need a whole lot more feathers to get there.

Reconsider Your Preconceptions

Now for another riddle.

What’s better, a healthy church of 50, or a healthy church of 5,000? The answer should be obvious, but often isn’t.

They’re the same.

Certainly a healthy church of 5,000 is ministering to more people than a healthy church of 50. But a healthy church is a healthy church.

100 healthy churches of 50 have the same spiritual and numerical weight as one healthy church of 5,000.

We need to weigh small and large churches the way we measure feathers and bricks. 100 healthy churches of 50 have the same spiritual and numerical weight as one healthy church of 5,000.

We have a hard time seeing this reality because we make the same mistakes with small and big churches that we make with the riddle about bricks and feathers. Our underlying preconceptions taint our expectations.

We hear what we expect to hear – that 100 pounds of bricks weighs more than 100 pounds of feathers, and that healthy big churches are better than healthy small churches.

How Healthy? Or How Big?

Health and size are two different things, and they require two different types of measurements.

A healthy elephant is bigger than a healthy rabbit. Their relative sizes have nothing to do with their relative health – or relative value. In fact, a rabbit the size of an elephant wouldn’t be healthy at all. It would be a horror movie – literally.

The same is true with churches. They can be healthy or unhealthy at any size.

The issue, when considering the health of a church isn’t “how big is it?” or even “how fast is it growing?” but “is this church a rabbit or an elephant?” and “is it a healthy one?”

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January 16, 2018 at 12:02 PM

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