For about a generation now, half of the body of Christ has been under attack.
The smaller half.
And what makes it worse is that the assault has come, not from our enemies and detractors, but from inside the body of Christ.
We’re being injured by friendly fire.
The Unseen Small Church
This attack has gone virtually unnoticed. Especially by the people who are supposed to notice things like this.
In our drive for church growth we have left half of the body of Christ largely to either fend for herself or – more often than we’d like to admit – undermined by many of the very people who have a responsibility for helping and supporting her.The church of 20 is a far more common expression than the church of 200. And a church of 1,000 or more is an extreme outlier. Click To Tweet
Fully half of all Christians attend churches that are considered small (under 200). Most of them are quite small. The church of 20 is a far more common expression than the church of 200. And a church of 1,000 or more is an extreme outlier.
But if you follow most of the church growth teaching for over 40 years, as I have, you’ll see that the smaller church has not just been virtually ignored, it’s often been insulted, even blamed for the problems in the body of Christ today.
Not by those on the outside, but by those on the inside.
Stop Bruising The Body
While it’s important, even noble to pursue church growth, it is unwise, even cruel to assume that congregations who aren’t seeing significant numerical growth are broken, backwards and problematic.You can’t beat up half the body of Christ by constantly telling them they’re stuck, broken or even “what’s wrong with the church” and not expect the entire body to be bruised by it. Click To Tweet
You can’t beat up half the body of Christ by constantly telling them they’re stuck, broken or even “what’s wrong with the church” and not expect the entire body to be bruised by it.
Recognizing The Vital Small Church
Certainly, there are problems in many smaller congregations. But you don’t help a hurting congregation by telling them they’re what’s wrong with the body of Christ or by ignoring their contributions in favor of a shiny new venue across town.
Small congregations deserve our care, our time, and our thanks.
They need to be heard, not condescended to.
They should be fully recognized as vital contributors to Christ‘s mission.
Because they are.
And because anything less is unhelpful, unkind and untrue.
The Thriving Church
The church is alive and well.
Jesus said he would build it, and for 2,000 years he has been doing so. Relentlessly and successfully.
No matter how she is attacked, she doesn’t just survive, she thrives.
From cynics and haters, to scams and imitators, she has faced down every foe and outlived them.
No attack from the outside can stop her.
But the attack from the inside? That’s a different kind of hurt.
Healing The Body
If you’re in a position of leadership in your denomination, town or world, look around you.
See the millions of small-venue churches for what they really are – an essential half of the body of Christ. They deserve as much credit and as big a voice in your decision-making process as our big-church brothers and sisters.
Only then can the entire body start to heal.
(Photo by Tony Tran | Unsplash)