There is an old statement that every thing is bigger in Texas. And while it is true I saw a 30 foot Dorito’s bag outside the Frito Lays Headquarters (and I wish I got a picture with Peg leg, but missed it), those type of BIG things don’t appear every day. Yet, many churches in the Dallas metroplex are large – very large.
One source reports there are over 1700 churches in Dallas, over 1300 in Fort Worth, and hundreds in the surrounding suburbs. Over 4000 – Wow. My father was the pastor at Grace Temple Baptist – which was in Guinness Records for having more churches in one square mile than any other square mile on the planet – again, Wow.
Eight of the top 100 churches in the nation are in Dallas. Some are Watermark (11,000 plus attending per week), First Dallas, Prestonwood (17,000 per week – Calvin works here), Fellowship, and Gateway (over 28,000 weekly) – and these numbers do not include online viewers. And yet again, Wow.
But is bigger better? With over 90% of all churches under 200, how does all this fit in the big picture? Having been in large, small, and in-between size churches, I can say it is not so much about size but about health. How healthy is the church? Now, much has been written on this issue and maybe we can return to it later. But I want to say there is strength to smaller churches – a healthy approach to church life that can reach people, that can make a more personal impact in their community, and that can keep people to a higher level of accountability because it is not as easy to hide in the crowd.
There can be a simple focus that produces fewer programs but are done better. There can be relationships built across generational lines because you don’t divide by age groups as much. And there can be a better flexibility because of lack of organizational red tape.
But I guess it just boils down to a few things – no matter the church size.
Are you fulfilling the Great Commission – Making Disciples?
Are you fulfilling the Great Commandment – Loving God and Loving Others?
Are you doing this with solid theology, a focus on relationships, involving all members, and an impact on the community around you?
WOW on Worship this week – it’s not about size. Small churches impact lives too! And sometimes will reach people a large church never would. Let’s celebrate the diversity and strengths of different size congregations. And through it all – may God get the glory.
POST SCRIPT – Want more, just Google “Thom Rainer and small church” or “small church health” … you will get plenty of articles to peruse. The picture attached above is Prestonwood Baptist’s Plano campus.