The Challenge of Consistency

I tend to agree with the notion of there being a difference between small church and big church.  A small church, perhaps under 100 people, will tend to have strengths that can become weaknesses in a larger church, perhaps over 200 people.  For instance, in a small church, low standards of music and preaching will be smiled at since everyone knows the individual who is “trying their best.”  But once that church grows through the transitional stage and becomes bigger, such low standards become more counter productive.  Visitors (and there will probably be more now) don’t know the individual up front and the whole dynamic doesn’t work quite so well.  While fellowship is often a strength in smaller churches, it takes deliberate work to achieve that in a larger church.  The emphasis on “up-front” standards inevitably increases as a church grows.

This provides a challenge.  I suppose it is a challenge for all churches of all sizes.  It is especially a challenge for churches with some creative capacity (people, skills, people-hours, etc.).  When you have a guest service of a certain standard, then people will bring guests along.  If that service is done well, then some of those guests might return the next week.  There’s the problem.  If all the effort to be clear and relevant and engaging and effective in the music, the preaching, the presentation, etc., if all that effort is spent on one Sunday, what about the next?

The challenge is consistency.  If your church has a goal of bringing the unchurched to a particular service, then it is worth thinking through whether greater consistency could be achieved in that service 52 times each year.  At that point people would be much more inclined to risk their own relationships and bring people along to the guest events.

There has to be flexibility in this.  Different churches have different capacities for guest events.  The vast majority cannot live up to the standards seen in the small number of “megachurches.”  There also has to be balance in this.  The primary role of the church service may not be evangelism.  Nevertheless, taking into account the specific ethos of a church, it would be worth giving some thought to greater consistency between guest events and normal Sundays.

3 thoughts on “The Challenge of Consistency

  1. As a pastor of a church attendance under 100, and having been a pastor of over 200, and attending a church with over 1000, I can tell you you are 100% correct.

    People in small churches agree that the music is less than it should be but its the best they can do, for the glory of God. While those same singers would not be able to sing in a larger church.

    I would agree that those in the small church should learn to sing so that they could sing in a larger church.

  2. Personally, I don’t think a church’s “goal” should ever be about the unchurched. Outreach is absolutely a vital thing to do but the Biblical standard is clear. The pastor of a church is to tend to his flock, not to bring in more sheep. It’s the sheep’s (and God’s) job to bring in more sheep.

    I think a church should be focused on educating and edifying their body and rely on God for the numbers. It works for John MacArthur’s church.

  3. The problem with “small” church is not the size but the mentality and stage of existence. Small can refer to young in existence or it can be small as a result of having plateaued and on the way to decline. What is seen as intimacy to a member, can be interpreted as exclusive to a guest. God does build His church but we may be closing the door to the people He is sending because all of our attention is on “us”.

    The Great Commission says to…Go into all the World (engage our culture) and Make Disciples (this involves the whole process of evangelism & discipleship).

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