Saturday, June 05, 2010

small churches: strategy to get people in pews

Small Churches are the Next Big Thing:
Are intentionally small churches any better than intentionally big ones? It depends.
by Brandon J. O'Brien

In a conversation last week about the virtues of small churches, a pastor friend of mine, Chuck Warnock, quoted a passage from John Zogby’s 2008 book The Way We'll Be: The Zogby Report on the Transformation of the American Dream (Random House). Zogby prophesies that “The church of the future will be a bungalow on Main Street, not a megastructure in a sea of parking spaces. It’s intimacy of experience that people long for, not production values.”

On the face of it, I couldn’t be more pleased with that prediction. I’ve pastored two small congregations and am now a member and deacon in another, where my wife serves on staff. My experience with these churches has led me to believe that small congregations are uniquely positioned to carry the gospel into the world in the 21st century. Few things would make me happier than if the “next big thing” in Christian ministry conversations was the small church.

But the context of Zogby’s forecast gives me pause.

Zogby is a political pollster ... He is simply talking about consumer patterns and preferences..

.it is very likely that we will lose sight of our theological and philosophical principles and start appealing to pragmatics. Instead of celebrating small churches because they are better positioned to reach people at the margins, better equipped to empower the laity for the work of ministry, and more inclined to cooperate, rather than compete, in ministry, we’ll be touting small size as a strategy to get people in pews...

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