I pastor a church where 225 people call themselves “regular attenders” and another 60 or so are “trying us out” on any given month. When people ask me about my church, I often refer to it as a “small” church, because I know of several larger churches. However, it looks like I’m wrong.
According to Outreach Magazine, 90% of the churches in the world have fewer than 200 people, and 80% have fewer than 100. Most pastors will spend the majority of their ministry in small churches. 90% will never pastor a church larger than 200 people.
I love my church – the people that is (as opposed to the building or institution) – and I’m very content (and blessed) to be their pastor. We may be considered “large” by comparison to the rest of the world, but I’m glad we’re not too large. Years ago, I was offered a position to pastor a church that at the time had 1,000 attenders. At the same time, I was offered the position I’m currently in. I had to decide between pastoring a “large” church or a “small” one.
It just so happened that when I was faced with this decision, I was reading Eugene Peterson’s memoir called The Pastor. In it, he talked about the “small” church of 300 people that he pastored for 30 years, and in great detail, he described the deep connections he was able to make. He said that because of the smaller size, he was able to “know” everyone in the church.
This really made an impact on me because at the time, I was serving as an associate pastor at the 1,000 member church and felt unsettled not being able to connect with and know all those people. Especially unsettling was when people would come up to me during the week in public and tell me how my preaching was making a difference in their lives, and until that meeting, I had never seen them before.
I don’t have a problem with big churches; God has just made it clear to me that smaller is better – for me. I’m glad that I “know” the people of my church, and I Iove that they invite me into their lives.
But armed with these newly discovered statistics, I may just tell people – when they ask – that I pastor a “very large” church – one of the top 10% in size churches in the world!