Thursday, 16 October 2008
I still believe larger Churches 'should' grow
Yesterday we had a gathering of the key leaders from our largest Churches in WEBA. For me, it was great to get together with this group of highly capable and gifted guys. It also brought into focus some of the big shifts over the last 25 years. One interesting fact that made me think a little is that the combined membership of our 10 largest Churches 25 years ago has shrunk by 38%! If that’s not a sobering fact, I’m not sure what else is. However, the total membership of our present largest 10 Churches is only 16% less than the 10 largest then - I confess, I thought it would be more. Clearly, those growing haven’t done so at a rate, which offsets the decline in the others, but we now have one more Church over 150 in membership than we did then. So, not all doom and gloom by a long way! I’d like to do a lot more work on these figures, but it made me realise I still believe wholeheartedly in Church growth. OK yes, I’ve been massively influenced by recent trends and am much more committed to a more holistic, missional, health promoted, deep, simple, organic, football-centred Church (oops) but the great commission remains at the heart and these are not just numbers, but real people. What fascinates me is how easily the rate of conversion to existing members so often decreases as Churches get larger. It can never be larger Church for larger Churches sake, but neither can it mean we need 200 disciples to keep a Christian show on the road and blow those around us – yeah car not fixed yet!