The Numbers Game
Mmm. Well said, John Brown. Well said.
_I know the vanity of your heart, and that you will feel mortified that your congregation is very small, in comparison with those of your brethren around you; but assure yourself on the word of an old man, that when you come to give an account of them to the Lord Christ at his judgment seat, you will think you have had enough. _
In this recent article, Brian Croft states exquisitely well what I feel when I hear and participate in the conversation of the church world regarding numbers and size. He just knocks it out of the park. I'm not going to recapitulate everything he said, but I do believe he's right. If you read his article, be careful to recognize that he's not saying "small churches are better than big ones" like some sort of spiritualized short man complex. His point is simply that size isn't primary. Whether you've got 25 people, 200, or 12,000, our job descriptions as pastors is to shepherd, care, and oversee souls (by definition). Our "job descriptions" as Christians includes missional service and evangelism, so don't read faithfulness as over and against fruitfulness.
I'm not against growth and I'm not necessarily for some arbitrarily small threshold. I am against a conception of church as a consumer good measured by how many people are attending a weekly Sunday service. At that point we might as well just create a fantasy church league where you can recruit your favorite pastors for one all-star staff.