The Astonishing Power of Small Churches: Over One Billion Served

power buttonThere are more than 2.2 billion Christians in the world. Almost 1/3 of the world’s population.

100–150 million of them attend megachurches. That is something to thank God for.

But over half the Christians on earth are involved in churches with less than *250 people in them. Which, when you do some basic math, leads to this astonishing conclusion.

More than one billion people choose to worship God in Small Churches.

Yes, you read that right.

More people worship God in Small Churches than the entire population of any country other than China.

Small Church pastors, God has placed an awesome responsibility into our hands – the spiritual well-being of more people than any denomination on earth. We oversee the spiritual lives of more souls than any religion in the world, other than Christianity itself.

*UPDATE: The number 250 is highly disputed. It could be anywhere from 200 – 350. Because so many small congregations around the world report to no one, any attempt at an accurate measurement is an educated guess, at best. Because of that, I believe the number of people worshiping in smaller churches is vastly under-reported. In my Big Church / Small Church infographic on this subject, I used the higher number of 350, because that is what is most commonly used by researchers. My belief, however, is that 250 is closer to reality. The underlying fact remains that about half the Christians in the world worship in smaller churches and half in bigger ones.


Numbers That Matter

But wait a minute, I thought New Small Church wasn’t about numbers.

New Small Church is not about numbers that don’t matter. But there are some numbers that do matter.

Numbers in my church don’t really matter all that much. Especially in the developed world. Why? Let’s face it – most of the people in your church and mine came from another church. And when they leave, they’ll go to another church.

Net loss/gain for the Kingdom of God? Zero.

But when we’re talking about the church, not just about your church or my church, things change dramatically.

Every person who comes into the church is another soul going to heaven and rescued from hell. Frankly, I don’t care if they’re in my church, your church, a Small Church, a house church or a megachurch. I’m just grateful – literally, eternally grateful – that they’re in any church that preaches the Gospel of Jesus and helps them live it.

Those are numbers that matter.


Mistake? Or Divine Strategy?

If Small Churches are a problem to be fixed, let’s take that premise to its logical conclusion. Do we really believe that over one billion of our fellow believers are mistaken because of the size of church in which they’ve chosen to worship and serve God?

They’re not mistaken at all.

It’s time to stop treating Small Churches, the pastors who lead them and the people who worship God in them as inadequate, as failures, as problems to be fixed or as obstacles to be overcome. (And if you sense a little anger or frustration in this, it comes mostly from my own history of underestimating the value of my church and my ministry in it, merely because it’s small.)

Small Churches are not small because of human weakness, lack of planning or short-term vision.

Small Churches are not a problem. They are an essential element in a divine strategy.

A strategy God has been utilizing for the last 2,000 years. A strategy I didn’t see until very recently.

What is that strategy? We’ll get a glimpse of it tomorrow, with Part 2 of The Astonishing Power of Small Churches: Strategic Placement.

I’m not a fan of hyperbole or grand promises, but this is a paradigm shifter. You’ll never look at Small Churches, or the people in them, in quite the same way after this.

The numbers, as always, are only part of the story.

Today’s post is Part 1 of a multi-post series this week on The Astonishing Power of Small Churches.

So what do you think? Were you aware that there are that many people who choose to worship in Small Churches? Does that cause you to look at your ministry and your Small Church differently?

We want to hear from you. Yes, you!
Enter your comment right below this post and get in on the conversation.

(Power Button photo by Roman Soto • Flickr • Creative Commons license)

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

5 thoughts on “The Astonishing Power of Small Churches: Over One Billion Served”

  1. Karl,

    Thanks for this first part. My frustration at times is the way I perceive our small church is perceived. In actuality, most of that is probably in my own kind. Which leads to my second frustration, which is perhaps the way I view my small church. It’s not about what we have to offer as a small church, because we will never compare in that area to a larger church. It is about continuing to share what God has offered.

    1. You’re welcome, Donn. And you’re right that the frustration starts in our own minds. It sure started there for me.

      That’s why I titled my book, “The Grasshopper Myth.” It’s from Numbers 13:33 where the Hebrew spies “seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes”, and then “we looked the same to them.”

      We all have something offer. It’s easy to see the advantages of being big but, as we’ll see in the next couple of days, smallness has amazing advantages too. They’re harder to see, but they’re definitely there.

    2. Donn,
      What Karl agrees with and you stated- it starts in our heads- has been something we all have faced. Karl just finally put a name to it.
      For the past couple decade, anyone who has gone through seminary or ministry training has been “fed” the numbers schtick.
      And it is no wonder so many leave the ministry each month.

      I am coming to the understanding (through this ministry Karl has answered to) that the enemy has actually used the numbers stinkin thinkin to hinder us, ok just me-I don’t want to speak for anyone else…
      I just know the countless hours I have worried through 9 years as a church planter/pastor and the 8 years of various ministry positions prior to that about how to get more butts in the seat and have failed to see the growth that really matters.
      So much so that it has caused so many others struggles in my life, family, relationships, and ministry.

      Gee, just what the enemy wants, those who follow after God to be in doubt and question God and ourselves! (I’ve read something like that in Genesis a few times)

      I thank God for giving Karl this vision and ministry and that it is reaching so many with many more to come!
      Stay encouraged!

  2. Karl,
    I continue to truly appreciate your transparency in these posts, it makes it so refreshing and relatable!
    Thanks as always for sharing your head!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *