A Move Towards Intentionally Smaller Churches?

Brandon O’Brien in his new book Strategically Small Church, The: Intimate, Nimble, Authentic, and Effective writes,

“Despite the fact that the Bible compares the spread of the gospel to the mustard seed, which appears insignificant and unproductive, the dominant expectation of most pastors is that success is measured in terms of numerical growth.  Fifty years from now, this may not be the case.  We may all look back on our preoccupation with church size in the late twentieth century and say (as we do now about big hair and head-to-toe-denim), ‘What were we thinking?’  When the history books are written about our mega ministry efforts in the future, I suspect that the era between the 1970s and the present will appear the anomaly. In the decades preceding the church-growth movement, small-church ministry will prove to have been the norm by necessity.  In the decades to come, small-church ministry will be the norm by choice.” (39-40, emphasis added)

He goes on to cite trends in Christian publishing which back up this bold prediction including:

-          Weariness of the burden of perpetual numerical growth

-          Realization that the Bible defines ministry success differently than we have done

-          Increased interest in leadership development, discipleship and spiritual formation are squeezing out emphasis on size

-          “the fact of the matter is that many people are finding that large-church ministry simply isn’t working anymore” (40)

I think he is on to something.

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