Having grown up in a church environment pretty much all my life I have been subject to plenty of opinions about the importance or unimportance of the size of a congregation. Personally, I have developed the belief that both large and small congregations have their benefits and drawbacks. I strongly think that too often people on both “sides” make the mistake of declaring a false dichotomy concerning quantity and quality of their preferred congregation size.
Though Mark Driscoll’s focus in chapter ten of Vintage Church was not focused in on the subject (but rather it was on “What is a Multi-Campus Church?”), he made a couple of astute observations worth noting:
“People wrongly subscribe a moral value to a church size. People who prefer small churches (however they define “small”) criticize big “fancy” churches with “impersonal” preachers who are on screens and denounce the lack of loving community. Conversely, some who prefer large churches (however they define “large”) criticize small “mom and pop shop” churches for having “pathetic” preaching, music, and programing and disparage their lack of conversion growth and evangelism. Such bantering is no more helpful than parents arguing whether their tall child or their short child is better and more loved by God. At best, it reflects pride, immaturity, and judgmentalism that is detrimental to Christian unity among churches” (247).
“A mega-church does not negate the place and unique ministry of mid-size and small churches. Our neighborhood has the mega-corporate Starbucks and also the small Java Jahn’s. Both are outstanding in their own way. The problem comes when people begin to criticize what doesn’t fit their preferred ministry style. In the same way that it is wrong to criticize a megachurch because it’s not small; it is wrong for megachurches to criticize small churches because they are not large. All churches must strive for excellence in what God has called them to” (p 264).
A while back I came across a chapter in an e-book that specifically addressed the tension between over-emphasizing and under-emphasizing numbers in a church. I would like to get that chapter from the author and post a link to it so that all could read it as I found it to be well thought out on the subject. Until then, enjoy wrestling with the topic within your hearts and especially within Scripture.