As a Pastor of a “Small” Church I know and have been told all the advantages of the small congregation. Also as a Pastor I’ve learned some of the disadvantages, but I won’t go there. Fellow bloger, http://thediscipler.blogspot.com, has some great comments about the small church, but let me list you his disadvantages:
First, in a smaller church you get to know everybody. Yes, I know I put that as a strength, but it is also one of a small churchâ€™s greatest liabilities. You can easily identify the trouble-makers, gossip-mongers, and those who are spiteful and bitter. Because they are known, they are often accepted without question. Furthermore, because everyone knows everyone every statement must be examined lest it cause offense or misunderstanding.
Second, in a smaller church a threat to leave or withdraw support creates a crisis. In large congregations, a family may â€œtake their ball and leave the gameâ€? without creating as much as a ripple. One unhappy individual choosing to leave a smaller church creates a crisis, especially when their friends know theyâ€™re unhappy. Those with money pose an even greater threat. A major contributor who becomes unhappy can create all kinds of problems.
Third, in a smaller church excellent leadership is often in short supply. More often than not, smaller churches are organized in a more traditional fashion with bylaws that require a specified number of leaders. Such specifications lead to ignoring biblical qualifications making availability the primary requirement. The traditional structures in most churches, including some megachurches, creates an adversarial system that leads to trouble. Fortunate are the congregations that have such systems and have successfully avoided conflict.
Fourth, in a smaller church the minister often becomes a chaplain rather than an innovative evangelist. Those smaller congregations surviving a few years with an innovative evangelist donâ€™t stay small. The Ginghamsburg Church near Dayton is a prime example. When the Methodist Conference assigned Mike Slaughter to the Ginghamsburg pulpit, the congregation averaged about 90 in a small building located about 5 miles north of Dayton. The first year, according to Slaughter, the congregation grew to 70. Today, more than 20 years later, this congregation is one of the largest and most dynamic Methodist Churches in the country. Because of their inherent nature, most smaller congregations want a caregiver chaplain and, if the truth were known, do not expect nor do they want to grow.
Fifth, in a smaller church it is harder for new people to find acceptance. Smaller churches often see themselves as intensely friendly â€¦ and they are â€¦ with each other. A new family or individual often finds it difficult to break in. Only through persistence and effort can they make their way into the circle of acceptance.
If true, what do we do?