Having a small church mentality

Ryan asks:

Isn’t it the big churches that are so pushing the small groups because they understand that big is impersonal and the only way to keep people coming in a big church is to get people individually involved in such things as small groups?

According to him

Small churches don’t need the small groups so much and there may not be enough interest or people with the time to be involved in them.

Oddly small churches covet what big churches do and big churches covet the small church community relationships where everyone knows everyone.

If it’s the coveting of what others have or can do is the driver for what exists then what is the negative outcome of this? I would say in both cases, burn-out. The small churches trying to look like big churches have to few people doing too many things. The big churches with the extra side small groups not only has people going to church on Sunday with all those bells and whistles but then doing the groups other days of the week. That is just too much responsibility for people and too many extra activities for people to be squeezing into life.

Steve Mittelstaedt finds that with large churches, and/or meeting places greater than average size, the problem is that they require large organizational structures to administrate.

In this respect they are no different than any other formalized group of people. The larger the church the more complex the structure. And the structures in turn inculcate staff and church attenders with routines and and processes that over time tend to develop a life of their own. The people start to serve the structures instead of the other way around. Which for some people is actually easier than real human interaction. When Dilbert cartoons start becoming intelligible in the context of a church it can’t be a good thing.

In theory small groups ought to address this. My practical experience as a long-time former member of a medium-sized church is that the groups themselves became part of the program. We are in small groups because our church has small groups. Not because they actually encourage real relationships or spiritual formation.

Thom Schultz sees big church parking lots which have attracted a lot of big-thinking admirers. While it’s common for people in any endeavor to look up to the big and famous, he wonders how healthy and effective “big-church thinking” is for the 99 percent of churches that are not big. Has numerical bigness become the tacit mission?


If “big-church thinking” isn’t always a healthy approach, what’s a better way for the average church? Some suggestions:

1. Thank God for the gathering in your midst, regardless of numerical size.

2. Whatever your size, think like a small church–personalized. Faith, and the nurturing of faith, are relational endeavors. Relationships aren’t mass-produced.

3. To be fresh and effective where you are, look beyond the established behemoths for inspiration. Most breakthroughs don’t come as a result of copying the big status quo. Starbucks, for example, did not break through by attempting to emulate Folgers or other big coffee brands.

Rather than thinking big, perhaps it’s time for some humble Jesus-style thinking. The Son of God stooped to tend to sick and dying individuals. And he bothered to call people by name. (The record is unclear if he utilized vest-clad camel lot attendants.) {How to Impersonate a Big Church}

On this writing Jeff Michaels reacts

I’m reminded of Rick Warren’s quote in the film, ‘When God Left the Building’ , where he said, “Nobody likes a big church…except pastors.”

That may explain why some look up to the big church and want to emulate the practices and thinking. For those people who do so, perhaps large attendance is emblematic of an [inappropriate] affirmation of God “blessing” them. Of course, only God can judge the heart.

I recall the example Jesus gave of leaving the flock of 99 sheep to look for the 1 lost sheep, though I anticipate some protesting…”that’s not church!” They may be right, but that’s where Jesus was. Wherever Jesus is, that’s where I want to be as well, regardless of if it’s called “church” or not.

As people who want to follow Jesus Christ we just must recognise that in his time he too was a stranger in the community, presenting teachings many did not like. At times many followed him, often out of curiosity, expecting something special going to happen or liking the disputes going on after this man told a story.

Dan Hansen writes he loves the smaller church,

So, did the Apostle Paul have a “small church mentality?” I noticed that he identifies almost 35 people by name at the end of his letter to the Romans. (And he hadn’t even been there yet!)

When we read the acts of the apostles we can get a pretty idea of those early meetings.  We read about how Paul ministered to Lydia, in Phillippi, where there were so few Jewish folks that they didn’t have a synagogue. All they had was a prayer group on the beach.

Steve Bradley believes that Paul didn’t care.

He wanted to minister to more, of course (who doesn’t, especially an evangelist?), but one was enough. Or two.

Today many have forgotten that we are mandated to “make disciples.”

Nowhere did God instruct us to create an income stream built on the backs of “making disciples.” How can we replicate that? If you can’t afford to pay for these discipling materials and instructors from XYZ seminary, then we cannot equip you for duplicatable ministry. How did we get from the Bible to do that?

writes Pastor Bill.

We would not argue that it is easier to have an own church-building.  But it is not such a building that shall make the church. In the Acts of the apostles we read about meetings in homes which were referred to as “churches.”

“and [salute] the church that is in their house. Salute Epaenetus my beloved, who is the firstfruits of Asia unto Christ.” (Romans 16:5 ASV)

“The churches of Asia salute you. Aquila and Prisca salute you much in the Lord, with the church that is in their house.” (1 Corinthians 16:19 ASV)

“Salute the brethren that are in Laodicea, and Nymphas, and the church that is in their house.” (Colossians 4:15 ASV)

“and to Apphia our sister, and to Archippus our fellow-soldier, and to the church in thy house:” (Philemon 1:2 ASV)

With John White we also believe most church historians would agree that the early church was primarily a house church movement.

Hey, yutz! Guns aren’t toys! They’re for family protection, hunting dangerous and delicious animals and keepin’ the King of England out of your face!

Legalistic outward adherence to the Law is not what is going to bless us in such a way that everything shall go superfluous. Having wealth, success is not always a sign that everything is good. When we look at the success of mega churches, often we can see they are very popular for the wrong reasons. In the United States we even do find several churches putting up Sunday services where those present can gain a rifle. In some of the mega churches they give guns away and do not preach about not bringing any harm to others or sharing the agapè love. In some we might even find right wing neo Nazi talk. Clearly they are not gaining people by the love they preach, but by hate to those who are different, and by creating fear.

In many bigger communities we can not find the inner spirit of poverty, brokenness, humbleness, hunger for righteousness, mercy, purity, and peace which Jesus preached.

GUNS CHURCHThe Law put a lid on man’s desire for revenge, but instead of demanding justice we should offer mercy. Certain mega churches call for defending the own property and cry about defending the second amendment. Often those bringing in weapons in the House of God have more ears for what they ‘love to hear’ instead of loving to hear the Word of God. Not having so much reading parts of the bible, but hearing just a few words, often taken out of context, may be used to cheer the visitors and bring them in a sort of delirium or state which has nothing to do with pure worshipping of God. Often those present in such mega churches do not have the New covenant written in their heart and they do prefer to enjoy all man’s festivities no matter if they have a heathen background.

When looking at other churches we better check if they really spend enough time at the message of Jesus and use their service to honour god or to honour man or happenings of this world. in which way do the people gathering there are really interested in the word of God or are looking for some entertainment? In which way do they want to fall unto Christ, opening their heart to him and willing to share their love with others around them?

Either you will fall on Jesus Christ the cornerstone or He will fall on you. If the latter, you will be crushed, but if the former, you will be broken in pieces. Few will volunteer to be broken. They refuse to fall on Him, but somehow hope He won’t fall on them and that if He does, the crushing won’t be all that bad. While these may not seem like great choices, look at those who chose to fall on the Rock and were broken. Look at how God was able to use them: Abraham, Jacob, Moses, David, Peter, Paul. I won’t lie; being broken in pieces will hurt, but the joys on the other side are immense. Getting crushed…well…it’s just getting crushed. The choice is yours. {Broken or Crushed: The Choice Is Yours}

We are better to love to find places where God resides in the hearts of those present. We better look for places where attention is given most of the time to the Bible, the Word of God and where many people may have their say and contribute to the whole community. By combined action it is that people have to share the Word of God enjoying each others company in or into agreement or harmony.

Acts 2:45–47 (ESV): 45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.

We should not regret to be able to go from house to house to break bread with like minded. We should be happy we can praise God and having favour with the few people who sincerely look for God.

Hebrews 10:25 (ESV): 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.


Preceding articles:

Religious Practices around the world

Manifests for believers #3 Catholic versus Protestant

Ecclesia to exist, grow and communities to have people communicating with each other

The Ecclesia in the churchsystem

Reasons to come together

The Big Conversation

The Big Conversation follow up

The Big conversation – Antagonists

Reasons why you may not miss the opportunity to go to a Small Church

Engaging the culture without losing the gospel

Evangelisation, local preaching opposite overseas evangelism

Feeling-good, search for happiness and the church

Members of the ecclesia uniting and seeking God’s help in tribulation

Why we do not have our worship-services in a church building


Additional reading:

  1. People are turning their back on Christianity
  2. Looking on what is going on and not being of it
  3. Not words of any organisation should bind you, but the Word of God
  4. A call easy to understand
  5. Discipleship way of life on the narrow way to everlasting life
  6. Many forgot how Christ should be our anchor and our focus
  7. Do not be afraid to learn or to speak
  8. Reasons to come together
  9. Congregate, to gather, to meet
  10. Fellowship
  11. Disciple of Christ counting lives and friends dear to them
  12. The first on the list of the concerns of the saint
  13. Holiness and expression of worship coming from inside
  14. To find ways of Godly understanding
  15. Christianity to be enshrined
  16. Christianity is a love affair
  17. Perishable non theologians daring to go out to preach
  18. Who are the honest ones?
  19. Certain people trying to stem freedom of speech
  20. Priority to form a loving brotherhood
  21. American atheists most religiously literate Americans
  22. Small churches of the few Christadelphians
  23. Christadelphians or Messianic Christians or Messianic Jews
  24. Christadelphian people
  25. Who are Christadelphians
  26. What are Brothers in Christ
  27. Two new encyclopaedic articles
  28. Christadelphians today
  29. Keeping an ecclesia in modern times
  30. Intentions of an Ecclesia
  31. Good or bad preacher


39 thoughts on “Having a small church mentality

Geef een reactie - Give a reaction

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.