Healthy and Small: Mutually Exclusive?

Below is an excerpt of a recent paper I wrote for a D. Min class called Effective Ministry in the Small Church.  I'm posting it here because I think it sums up some of my thinking over the last year, especially as it applies to the ups and downs of growth within my own denomination, the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church:

"...No church is perfect, and every church has its share of weaknesses.  It seems like there is a new book every day addressing church decline, postmodernism, or a dying faith.  I used to buy into the mindset that “healthy churches grow.” But even in my short time as a minister, I’ve seen plenty of growing churches who are far from being a healthy picture of Christ’s body. 
I’m reminded of a random quote I heard about tennis: “more people than ever play tennis, it's just that most of them don't expect to make a living at it.”  Perhaps the American church is healthier than ever, it’s just that fewer expect to have 1000 (or even 500) members. Rather, the landscape is dotted with many healthy church families of 50-150 in which children can be reared, parents can be cared for, and shepherds can know their flocks.  
I did some calculating the other day and figured up that if every church in my community reached its “share” of the population, we’d all have about 225 members.  None of us would be “mega,” but we’d all be serving the Kingdom of God in our part of His plan.  I think about this sometimes when I look out and see 50, 80, or 100 people on a Sunday morning.  I wonder, “What are our strengths? Who are the folks God wants us to reach?”  We can begin to answer those questions by considering our strengths and making the most of what God has given us in our personalities, pasts, and our passions..."

If you're interested, I often post my D.Min papers over at so classmates and my congregation can take a look.


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