Big churches are often seen as:
- The place to be
- The way it should be
- For younger people
- Popular places
- Having all the resources
- Culturally relevant
Small churches are often seen as:
- The local place to go
- The way it used to be
- For older people
- Quiet places
- Having few resources
Whatever big and small are.
But how does God see them?
In Making new disciples (Ireland and Booker), they point out that out of the 7 churches in Revelation chapters 2 and 3, the ones most praised are not the outwardly successful ones but the ones who are suffering afflictions, poverty, persecution, prison, weakness and trials in Smyrna and Philadelphia: “A Church that has spiritual depth and power may have none of the recognition, prestige or trappings of human success” (page 69).
Tim Norwood has pointed out that as well considering the usual numbers and spiritual depth when looking at a church’s health, impact should be considered, impact on the wider-world through acts of mercy and compassion. I would also add in evangelism to impact, in terms of people reached rather than people who responded.
So again, more than size success.
So, when considering our own church (how often when we are describing our church to a fellow Christian do we mention its number size?), when considering other churches, what success criteria are we using, what success criteria should we be using?
As so often with God, it is more than meets the eye.
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