Monday, August 10

Small churches more dysfunctional?

George Barna, who is actually an advocate of house churches these days, released a study this morning which showed that the people in larger churches tend to be theologically more orthodox and spiritually vital than the people in smaller churches.

I'd suggest that the study is somewhat skewed because when churches flounder they decline in numbers. This doesn't mean that all small churches are unorthodox or unhealthy -- just that the small church category, almost by definition, gets stuck with an infusion of more dysfunctional people.

As the more functional people bail on troubled congregations they shrink. On the other hand healthy churches attract people and grow. So there are more unhealthy small churches than large ones -- at least using Barna's 17 indicators. But I'd suggest that are actually some advantages to developing smaller healthy churches which intentionally multiply themselves before growing huge. Can you think of what those advantages might be?

1 comment:

Susan Gillespie said...

I read Barna's piece, and I would argue first with his definition of healthy or orthodox. As a veteran of a couple of large churches, and now the pastor of a small one, I would say that what people say they believe might be very different from what they do/are. That's a lot harder to measure. But the small church I serve is much more welcoming in its attitude to people who are on a spiritual journey that is unorthodox - which makes it just much more welcoming, period.