3. It Ignores Many Effective Churches
Many small churches and their pastors feel invisible. They’re doing what God has called them to do, but without constant numerical growth almost no one knows how to gauge their effectiveness, let alone encourage or build on it.
So they labor, not just in obscurity, but in loneliness. A loneliness that often leads to the very ineffectiveness that they’ve been blamed for. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Small churches are not necessarily small because they’re ineffective. But they can become ineffective if their value to the kingdom keeps being ignored simply because of their size.
4. It’s Not Biblical
No one in the New Testament cared about congregational size.
We know that because, while virtually every other aspect of church health is mentioned, attendance numbers are never even hinted at.
(Yes, some crowd sizes are mentioned in the Gospels and Acts, but those crowds weren’t churches. In fact, those figures were more like counting total conversions in a town than seeing one congregation grow while others are ignored.)
In the first century, faithful churches were encouraged and applauded, even if they were small and struggling. Yet some numerically-growing churches were criticized for becoming lukewarm as their success went to their heads.
In a hyper-growth culture, a church like Philadelphia might have been told to “get those numbers up or we’ll bring in someone who can” instead of “I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name.” (Rev 3:8)
Meanwhile a large, growing church like Laodicea might have been holding church growth conferences, while we all ignored the underlying reality of “You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.” (Rev 3:17)
If it seems like I’m bashing the big church for being big, I’m not. And neither was John the Apostle.
John simply recognized a truth that is very easy to forget – that the size of a congregation has no direct correlation to their health or faithfulness. Numerical growth didn’t make Laodicea complacent any more than lack of numerical growth made Philadelphia unfaithful.
5. It Takes Our Eyes Off The Prize
What’s the prize? More people coming into a saving relationship with Jesus and being discipled.