People have been leaving churches and joining other churches for years. Of course, we should be aware of the unfortunate growing trend of people leaving the church, in general, and never returning. This is troublesome, no doubt, and Christians should pray for this to change; the sooner the better.
What has troubled me recently is a particular church-leaving reason: “The church is too big.” Explanations follow such as “I feel lost… It seems impersonal… I hardly know anybody… It’s hard to connect with people…”
The size of a church is relative. If you live in a large city, a church drawing around 500 people may not seem so big. If you live in a rural area, more than 250 could be overwhelming.
Suppose that you have been a member of a church for a few years, and the church started to grow in size. This can be a good sign that you are part of a healthy, faithful congregation. People are hearing Biblically-based preaching and teaching, involved in ministry, giving faithfully, evangelizing and discipling. God is blessing the work of your church, and people want to be a part of what God is doing.
Now that we’ve qualified this church as one that is obediently following the Lord, would you leave this body if, in your mind, it becomes too big? And then, suppose you find another church that meets similar standards of obedience, and it starts to grow. Would you leave it as well?
What is the “perfect” size for a church? Can there be a definite formula? Going back to the explanations I listed, are “small” churches the absolute remedy for people who feel lost and want to better connect with others? There are reasons why some churches remain small and don’t grow in size. Some of the reasons are not appealing.
Instead of focusing on the size of the church, focus on how you can serve IN the church. Chances are, the larger the church body, the greater the opportunities there may be to serve. Regardless of church size, though, when you find your place of service, be aware that God is using you to impact others. You may not see it directly, but it is happening.
Paul shares in Ephesians 4 about how the church is like an anatomical body with Christ being the head. God designed the church to operate in a similar structure as a human body, and just like a healthy body grows, so does the church body. “From Him the whole body, fitted and knit together by every supporting ligament, promotes the growth of the body for building up itself in love by the proper working of each individual part” (Eph. 4:16).
See that part where Paul talks about “every supporting ligament”? You are to be one of those muscles and tendons that help grow the body of Christ, the church. If you are doing your part in serving in church ministry, then you are helping the church to grow and make an impact on others who come to your church.
Whether you’re a nursery worker, a greeter, an usher, a choir member, a Sunday School teacher or however you may be serving (and there are many other ways to serve), you are encouraging others. Let this be your focus, and then it should not matter how big your church may be.