What We Believe
Jesus Christ is the only hope of the world. Being crazy in love with him is what brings joy and peace to individuals, relationships, families and churches.
Jesus told us how to be recipients and distributors of that hope when he taught us that the whole of the Bible (“the law and the prophets” is how he phrased it at the time) is summed up in one simple command…
Love God, love others, that’s all.
The local church is the main way Jesus chose to bring that hope and love to the world. By “church” we don’t mean denominations, buildings, organizations, sacraments or creeds. We believe the church is at its most profound and basic when it acts as an extension of Jesus’ command to love God and love others.
People getting together to love Jesus, each other and the world is what the church looks like when it is stripped back to its essential core. Or, as Jesus put it, “when two or three are gathered in my name, there I am in the midst of them.”
Megachurches are great! Not only do we have nothing against them, we believe the world needs more of them.
House Churches are great too! No one knows how many of them exist all over the world but, especially where the church is illegal, they are a vital spiritual lifeline for untold millions of believers. They deserve and need our prayer and support.
So, if megachurches and house churches are so wonderful, why are we all about the small churches in between?
Why We Exist
Small churches don’t appeal to everyone. But, as it turns out, they do appeal to most people. More followers of Jesus have attended small churches in the last 2,000 years than any other type of church. That doesn’t mean they’re the best way to do church (we believe the “best” way is whatever works for the people who need it), but as the most popular type of church in existence, they need to receive more attention, support and encouragement than they typically have.
Small churches make up 80% – 90% of the known churches in the world, but are the subject of probably less than 1% of the books and blogs about how to do church ministry. Small churches are no better and no worse than churches of any other size. But they have been the most neglected, especially when it comes to pastoral training.
We want to help fill that gap. We exist help small churches thrive. That’s not just a slogan – it’s what we actually do. We want to see better, stronger, healthier small churches, led by passionate, prayerful, capable, innovative and loving pastors.
We believe being small is not a problem to fix, but a strategy God wants to use.
Most small church leaders have not been told that – or at least they haven’t been told it enough. If we can help turn up the volume on that message, we will have done what we set out to do.
What Do We Mean by “Small Church”?
The best way to answer that question is with this section from Chapter 3 of my book, The Grasshopper Myth:
Small, Big, Mega… Is there a Venti?
Numerically, the boundaries between churches of each size are fairly fluid, but here’s what I mean by the following:
- House Church: Less than 25 (and meeting in a house)
- Small Church: 25 – 350 (or under 25 meeting in a church building)
- Big Church: 350 – 2,000
- Megachurch: Over 2,000
Within some categories, church size distinctions could be broken down even further. For instance, there are clearly two distinct levels of Small Churches. A typical Small Church is 25 – 200, while churches from 200 – 350 might be called midsize.
But, as with everything in the church, numbers aren’t always the best way to make these distinctions. At various size levels, churches actually take on a new personality. This shift means that churches of 200 – 350 in weekend attendance, while still considered small, have a personality and management type that is very different from those at 25 – 200.
These shifts in church personality may actually be a more accurate way of defining each size.
- House Church – Run as a single family unit. Everyone participates in everything.
- Small Church – Strong pastoral control. Ministries are mostly offered by age categories.
- Midsize Church – Some staff is hired and ministries are available based on interests and needs.
- Big Church – More program-oriented. Pastoral ministry is done by staff pastors and in small groups. A very high quality is expected in all programs and ministries.
- Megachurch – Operates much like a group of Small Churches meeting niche needs. They gather under a common name and Lead Pastor for weekend services. Most attenders do not see the Lead Pastor outside of the preaching time. The Lead Pastor is a leader of leaders, pastoring the church staff.
A small church has fewer than 350 in average weekend attendance. But when I use the term “small church” I don’t include house churches for a couple of reasons.
First, house churches are a unique sector of church life that operate on significantly different principles than other churches. While I appreciate them and am grateful for the people they serve, especially in parts of the world where the church has been driven underground, I have zero experience or expertise in them and wouldn’t presume to teach about them.
Second, just as there is plenty of information about how to run a megachurch, there are also plenty of books and websites about house churches. My goal is to tackle the middle ground between the house church and the megachurch where the vast majority of churches are, but where there has been very little support, encouragement or teaching.
What Does a Healthy Small Church Look Like?
The answer to that would take a long conversation – and that conversation is a big part of what this blog is about. Check out these posts to get an idea.
How do we help a church move from small and struggling to small and healthy? Maybe even small and strong, small and innovative, even (dare we imagine it…?) small and world-changing? Not surprisingly, there are as many ways, styles and methods to do this as there are churches. But there are some universal truths, too. >>>Read More
The principles that make big churches healthy are the ones that make Small Churches healthy. … I don’t think there’s one right plan for all churches, as long as the model we use is based on the fundamentals Jesus gave us – namely The Great Commission and The Great Commandment. Within that simple framework, each church should use the model that works for them. But it is essential that we pick a biblically-based model and stick with it. >>>Click to Read More