My sweet sister, Jean, and I got into a discussion about what size congregation is too big for a church to be effective. Of course the goal of any church or Christian is to convert as many people as possible to believe in Jesus Christ as the savior. Without that basic belief, you are not going to make it into heaven. You can be just as good as you can be, help as many people as you can, love everyone to pieces, take care of everyone like they are family, but if you do not believe in Christ and accept Him as your savior, well, heaven will not be open to you.
Anyway, my sister goes to a large church and they built a huge facility a few years ago hoping, I’m sure, to attract more people. But the situation has turned into a catch-22 in that more people did start coming to the church, but now the congregation is so diversified and cliquish that many of those who were the backbone of the church have left and joined other churches. A larger church is usually more able to provide a bigger youth program, have more Sunday School classes, and to take on more mission projects. Participation in these activities puts you into a situation where you can get to know people better and establish relationships with those of a like mind. However, if you are new to a large church, you might feel too intimidated to join in if you are not feeling part of the crowd.
The church I belong to is a growing church. We have just voted to build a bigger facility in order to accommodate the current membership, attract new members and, therefore, have more people to convert. It was not a unanimous vote, and I think that those who voted against building are worried that our little church is going to change into something we don’t recognize. Is that a good or bad thing? Is it right to stay small and intimate? Better yet, is it the path that God wants us to take to stay small or to grow? I don’t know. All I know is that things are going to change at my church, and I hope it will be for the better.
Maybe it comes down to the leadership in the church. If the leaders are open to including new people in church activities and missions, then they set an example for the rest to follow. But if they are just part of an elite clique in a church, this turns people off and very few will join in. Fortunately at my church, our leadership is friendly, open, inclusive, and aware of the ultimate goal.
What has been your experience in such a situation?