Small Churches: Beautiful

This is article was written by Stuart McGregor in 2002 and does a pretty good study on the differences between mega-churches and the humble, average  70 membered,  community church.

Click to read the pdf here:

Once again, like many researchers he says the following about the lie that megachurches pump out that ‘thousands are being saved’:

“The interesting thing about the statistics on church growth is that whilst the bigger churches are growing, it’s not from evangelism… Only 5% of large church congregations are for unchurched backgrounds. This figure is also reflected in the United States, Canada and Australia. The ‘evangelistic triumph’ often heralded by the large Church growth is a myth that needs dispelling.”

One thing that this article should address is the rivalry that mega churches use to distance themselves from humble ministries. Phil Pringle on numerous occasions has made throw away statements why his church is better and why the local churches are dying.  Other ministries with ‘1000-member-mind-sets’ have also be-littled various local ministries. (And believe me I get around and have heard-so!)

It’s the local ministries that do soup kitchen’s, help the burnt out (or conferenced-out) Christians from ‘bigger and better’ ministries.

Since 2003, when I discovered the power of local community churches, I realised that they (and I will say they are the truer church) face more persecution then these mega-ministries because it’s these mega-ministries that persecute them! Don’t believe me? The article does kind-of suggest this with the ‘musical chairs’ analogy. It’s the mega-church that says the community church is STILL dying, but not with their help. They want the community church dead and they want to be seen as the truer church while the local churches never saw this as a goal.

It is usually the bigger churches that get media limelight in a bad way. That bad outlook gives non-believers a tainted view and view even the local ministries in that same light (church wants your money! you can’t question! etc).

When mega-churches put on their conferences, they do attract community-based ministries. Unfortunately, the local church generally has to deal with the damage caused by such events due to dodgy teachings, theologies, watered-down-gospels, inspiration to covet great succes, condmenation and striving to get their church like the mega-church, divisions due to controversial things in conferences, anti-christ spiritual attatchments (depending on what speakers do at events), etc.

A few local pastors have made the comment about Hillsong and CCC too that they specifically focus on the Caucasian middle-class -> rich people in the local areas and then leave the poorer up to the community churches to look after. This is true actually. Community churches generally allow the homeless to use their facilities and share their buildings (sometimes for a price) with other churches from different nationalities. This ranges from Caucasian services to Tongan services, Chinese Services, African Services, Korean Services, Malaysian Services, etc. Community churches also allow community events or workshops to use their facilities, truly integrating them into the community – drama, dance, theatre, music, sport, art, childcare, etc.

When events like this are successful, I have seen how dirty and greedy the mega-churches get and openly compete with local churches. Mega-churches DO sheep steal, I have seen them and they also take the fruit of the local churches labor. I have seen this too many times.

This is to only demonstrate that their methods are successful. They do such things to survive and to climb to keep being recognised as cutting-edge or leading the way forward. What this man writes about is what I see in the Australian churches. But it may be the NZ community churches aren’t persecuted by the mega-churches over there.

Might add more to this in the morning. Enjoy this man’s read!

EDIT: As someone else pointed out to me at church on Sunday morning, this is the response to these mega-churches in light of the community-based churches. I’ve been expecting and not expecting this.

You see, mega-ministries and leaders like John Bevere will never say that they are failing. They just ignore the voice of the researchers, trample over the little ministries to prove that their ministry is the “pure, progressive, purposeful, passionate, presence-filled, powerful, prayer-driven, positioned and prosperous“, and then ‘prophetically’ live up to their titles by now suggesting that we need to look at developing small churches or ‘helping’ small churches. You see, Bevere’s “insightful thoughts” and observation of “trends” are what propelling the church forward, not the community churches that have been chugging along the entire time copping the grunt from the bigger circus animals.

I suppose we’re gonna start seeing similar things as to what Hillsong did to GC3: these bigger ministries looking at ’empowering’ local ministries as long as they take on their church brand/identity.

2 thoughts on “Small Churches: Beautiful

  1. Yes, I read the article too, S&P – it was very good, very interesting.

    I’ve experienced large churches, small churches, and no church. All were good for me at different times.

    I left a local Anglican church with moderate numbers in the congregation, and a youth group of maybe 20 to 40 people, because despite the small size I was finding no genuine fellowship there. I was only in my late teens, but the youth environment there was cliquey, and I was very shy. It’s kind of hard for a shy person to break into extroverted cliques, although I gave it a couple of years, and I was always on the outskirts. The young people there didn’t make any effort to try to get to know me, and I didn’t know how to do it from my end, apart from just turning up. They were all interested in having fun, more than being inclusive. You would think that in a small church this would not be an issue, but it can be an issue anywhere. Being small has its advantages, but it’s not an automatic ticket to better communities.

    I don’t blame them. Of course I’m not angry with them. I was just young, and so were they. I’m not shy these days. I was probably pretty hard to get to know back then. There were reasons for that at the time, but those people had still not grown up enough to understand, and we were all immature. Leaving the fellowship was the only thing to do.

    A couple of years later I started attending CCC Brookvale under Phil Pringle. I absolutely LOVED it. I was about 21 or so. I loved the atmosphere, the worship, finding out about the gifts of the Spirit, and the sense of freedom I found there.

    Unlike my small church, the people were very friendly and welcoming. I was invited to social activities and home groups, one of which I joined. There were some very extroverted people there, but in their extroversion they reached out to me and included me. They really did express their devotion to Christ by including those around them. I gained a lot of confidence, felt accepted, made some very good friends, and over that time, stopped being shy. Probably part of growing up, but that environment was very supportive, although it was big.

    Over time, things changed a bit. I experienced many home groups, some wonderful, some so-so. Later on I found it difficult to find my friends at church if I turned up on my own, and it felt really awful to arrive, know nobody, and go home without connecting with anyone at the night time service, after being there for some years. Yes, I’d be friendly to those around me, but you’d never see them again – or not for weeks, at which point you had to start again. If your homegroup wasn’t around, it could feel pretty lonely in the big service. Finding people you know in a room of 2000 without some prior arrangement to meet in place can be daunting.

    I left at a time when I felt that I was going very stale due to a lack of teaching on any subject other than giving. I also felt that God was prompting me to visit another particular church…

    Well, I visited, and never went back to CCC Brookvale. The one I’d felt prompted to visit had the teaching I was seeking. It was a medium sized church. I found it very easy to get to know the people there. I was a good fit in that community. It wasn’t particularly cliquey; most people were friendly; the sense of community was great, and there was no problem finding people you knew in a group of maybe 100 or so, or of seeing the same faces often enough to get a feel for them. Going to a homegroup again was the key to knowing people better.

    So – I guess what I’m saying is they both have their strengths and weaknesses. Personally, I think small churches have some advantages over the larger ones in terms of fellowship – but – their size is no guarantee that that advantage will be lived up to, just as in a bigger church, there may be a way of becoming part of a community that is as warm as the smaller church one. And then, it can still all change over time.

    Now I go nowhere; I love it; its what God has for me now, and I’m enjoying gathering with an increasing number of Christians that I know on a similar journey right now.


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