When looking for a church, many seek the opportunities to get plugged in and use their gifts. Larger churches are typically more able to offer the resources and finances to support various ministries and diverse avenues of volunteer opportunities. There is a great draw to mega-churches because of the inreach and outreach potentials. In fact, according to Lifeway Christian Resources CEO Dr. Thom Rainer, “Currently more than 50 percent of church attendees attend the largest 10 percent of churches.”
On the other hand, many who walk into a mega-church quickly find themselves on the brink of having a panic attack. People are easily lost in the crowds of large churches—some because they don’t want to be noticed, and others simply neglected. The sheer numbers can also pressure a church into being overly “seeker sensitive” and, thus, it may be more difficult for the congregation to grow deeper as a whole. Besides all that, some find the bureaucracy and legal liabilities of mega-churches a huge turn off.
Probably the biggest pro of a mini-church is the close-knit community and family feel. Discipleship and community are greatly valued, and participants are more readily sought out and ministered to. Although the mega-churches can sport the high quantitative results, it is the mini-churches which consistently score higher in qualitative characteristics of a healthy church (according to global survey conducted by Christian Schwartz, founder and president of the Institute for Natural Church Development). Another recent study by church planting guru Ed Stetzer revealed that “churches of two hundred or less are four times more likely to plant a daughter church than churches of one thousand or more.”
Mini-churches have their share of problems, however. Struggling finances and member support have left many smaller churches destitute and unable to survive. Furthermore, narrow demographics can sometimes prevent a small church from growing and embracing the diversity that is necessary to grow, change and thrive.
Somewhere in the middle
So, do the pros and cons leave us with medium-sized churches as the right answer? Well, not exactly, because there really is no right answer. The right choice comes very much down to personal preference. To be involved in a church is to be part of a family. Naturally, some families are bigger or smaller than others and the individual families like it that way. Plus, just as there is no perfect family, there is no perfect church. Both mega- and mini-churches can do things very well or very poorly.
Remember that it is not about how many people attend a church, but about the heart and devotion of the church. There are far greater things than numbers. Wherever you attend, make sure it is a church where you and your family can grow and deepen your relationship with the Lord. Make sure it is a place you can both disciple and be discipled. And make sure it is a church that Christ can look upon and smile.
What do you go to: Mega or Mini? Let us know where you feel at home! Finley can be reached at: [email protected]