There are a lot of small churches in the world.
By most estimates, over 90 percent of churches are under 200, and over 80 percent are under 100. In fact, it’s not unusual for half of the congregations within a denomination to have 50 or fewer people in attendance.
So why does it seem like there are almost no resources specifically designed to help churches of that size?
Even my books and articles, which are written for small church pastors by a small church pastor, are aimed at all churches under 250 or so. Certainly, most of it also applies to churches under 50, but there’s very little specifically targeted specifically for the church of 50 or fewer.
There are three primary reasons for this:
1. The Busy Small Church Pastor
The people who are most qualified to write about the challenges and blessings of churches under 50 are those who have led them for an extended period of time.
But most of those pastors are too busy pastoring while working a secular job, or pastoring more than one church at the same time, to write about it
2. The Lack Of Small Church Experience By Church Leadership Writers
If small church pastors aren’t writing a lot of pastoral books or curriculum, who is? It’s pastors of larger churches, or people who have spent most of their time working for publishing houses, magazines and websites that come from a larger organizational perspective.
That’s understandable from the standpoint of publishers, but it means there’s a disconnect between the needs of most pastors and the skills of those who have been tasked with answering that need.
3. The Law Of Large Numbers
As I outlined in Small Church Essentials, the Law Of Large Numbers states that the larger the group is, the more predictably it will behave, and the smaller the group, the less predictably it behaves.
In churches, this means that larger congregations will have more in common organizationally, so they can share new ideas more readily. But the smaller the church is, the more each church is different from other churches – even other churches of the same size and denomination – making it harder to find common ground and share universal principles.
Certainly, there’s some common ground, no matter what size a church is, but the areas of common ground are not where most small church pastors are needing help. It’s the areas in which small churches are different where we need some assistance. But that’s where the circumstances often change from congregation to congregation.