How big is too big

Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by Salty, Feb 28, 2010.

  1. Salty

    Salty
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    I had started a thread about "common law membership". The intent was about weather we should officially vote a person into membership, or just regular attendance makes you a member.
    As usual the thread got hijacked. One fork was about everyone not knowing the members.

    So, lets make this thread about that.

    So how big is too big? 50, 100, 250, 500, 1000, 5,000?

    I know that in the large churches many, many programs are available, but is this the real purpose of a local Baptist church? In these large churches, how many members travel over 25 miles to attend?, esp when there are 5, 10, even 15 churches within a few miles of their home.
    It is my opinion that as Baptists we believe in the "local church". Attending a church 25 - 50 miles away is NOT a local church - it is a "distant" church.
    But back to the programs, suppose there are 10 churches in an area. 5 are small with 50 or less members (with only 1 ministry), 2 are large with over 500 members (with 20 programs). Lets ask for a miracle, and have the churches cooperate. Send some folks from the large churches to become a member of a church closer to their home. Then that smaller church will be able to grow with the new help. Better yet, new churches would be started! If you ask your next door neighbor to attend services with you, I think they might hesitate, if you tell them be ready at 830 am for a 10 am service, and you will be home by 1pm or so.

    And another note: I believe that a pastor should be able to visit each member in his church at least once a year - if not, the church is too big.

    Salty

    ps ( if you decide to quote me, please only quote the pertinent sentence or two :praying:)
     
  2. Tom Bryant

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    How can we say a church is too big, when God doesn't?

    As a pastor, I have to determine to be biblical in my approach and preaching and let God take care of the size.
     
  3. Jon-Marc

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    For me more than 200 in regular attendance is too many.
     
  4. Zenas

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    This is strictly a matter of personal preference. I think a church should be large enough to support a full time pastor, without which it is lacking lot of things. After that, whatever God leads that church to do. My personal preference is toward the large church because they have more and better programs (variety of Sunday School classes, variety of Sunday night studies, variety of mission opportunities, great music, etc.). If asked to assign a number I would say between 400 and 2,000.
     
  5. annsni

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    I don't know if it's the same elsewhere but within 25 miles of my own home, while there are many churches, there are only a very small handful that are Biblically sound. Many come to our church from further than 25 miles and they are well plugged in and I'd still consider it "local" since they make the effort to be there. However, we're in the process of planting a new church nearer to many of these about 20 miles from our current church so they won't have to travel anymore if they don't want to.

    My first requirement for a church is a Biblically sound one - which brings it down to maybe 6 churches in a 25 mile radius from our home. After that, it's preference and that brings it down to 2 churches and the one we attend is closest to us.

    Oh - and I'd say by 1000 people you should be still growing but also be planting churches.
     
  6. Salty

    Salty
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    I trust it was assumed I was speaking about Biblically sound churches.

    I do commend your church in planting missions! :wavey: :thumbsup:
     
  7. annsni

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    We're so blessed in this church. I'm going to make a post about this but last week, our pastor asked people to take on paying for a week of the hotel expense which is $500. His goal was a year's worth of weeks paid. We have over 70 paid so far and many more pledged. Today the pastor asked for people to commit themselves to going out in being part of the work (to be ushers, greeters, nursery workers, hospitality, prayer teams, etc.) and we had about 50 people come forward including some dear friends of ours who I NEVER would have expected to come (they're so tricky in not letting us know before now) including the head of our deacon board! SOOOOO cool!! So we're not going out blindly but we're going out with the full support of our "mother" church. :)
     
  8. Tom Butler

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    I place a high value on fellowship. When you grow so big that you can't all worship in the same place at the same time, then fellowship suffers. You have to go to multiple services, so not only do you not know a lot of the fellow members, you rarely see them. That can't be good, I think.

    Although, I will say that it's a nice problem to have to deal with.

    And I acknowledge that you just can't say (as a church) "we don't to get any bigger." Sometimes growth just happens.
     
  9. Mexdeaf

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    When it is so big that God gets left out, it is too big.
     
  10. donnA

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    I did say that church had only t most, 150 active members, and that number goes up or down each year, never exactly the same.
     
  11. Tom Bryant

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    That goes for small churches also.
     
  12. sag38

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    So, if your church grows beyond a certain number, then what do you do if it keeps growing? Do you complain about it being too big? What if this growth is from new converts? Are you still going to be uncomfortable? It's almost an attitude that says, "I don't want you here because I don't know eveyone anymore and I can't get personal attention from the pastor as quickly." It's an attitude that has an insidious undercurrent that, in essence, says to the lost, "go to hell. We don't want you here because we like our safe little fellowship and if you join you will mess it all up."
     
  13. JohnDeereFan

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    It's funny that you would bring up the distance issue, because that's something we're dealing with.

    As I've mentioned many times, our church is out in the middle of nowhere (actually, "middle of nowhere" is being pretty generous...after all, our town just got out first red light two years ago).

    When we started our church, our area was almost all Catholic and WoF churches, or liberal emergent churches. As a result, we grew from the original 24 people to more than 100 virtually overnight because Bible believing Christians who felt that there was no church for them flocked (no pun intended) to our church.

    As a result, we have people coming from as far away as forty or so miles away.

    As for numbers, we're up over 350 members in the three years since we started and we're about ready to build our third building. Started out meeting at the local firehouse, bought an old grange building on a lot parcel of land, and we're now getting ready to build "God's Own Ski Lodge" (a nickname given it by the architect because of the large fire place in the fellowship area and all of the wooden beams), which should hold about 700 people.
     
  14. rbell

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    As a church grows bigger, it must grow smaller.

    Groups such as Sunday School become much more important. This becomes the primary structure for accountability and discipleship.

    Our church has more than quadrupled in size over the last 6-7 years. It's much easier for someone to "slip through the cracks" than it would have been years ago. And thus, we put enormous emphasis on "plugging in" members, and we work hard to maintain contact, accountability, etc., at the small-group level.
     
  15. Mexdeaf

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    True. But isn't it interesting that God had a problem with all of the churches in Rev. 2 & 3 save one- and we don't know what size it was.
     
  16. abcgrad94

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    We have a couple of churches here where the folks sitting up front have not even met the folks who sit in the back. One runs about 1200 and the other about 500. Just my personal opinion (not scriptural since this isn't really addressed in scripture) I think those churches are too big for my taste. When I attend, I don't want to feel lost or alone in a crowd. I want friendships with my fellow believers, to invite people to dinner, and know what is going on with folks so I can better pray for them and have them pray for me.

    I also think we NEED those relationships with other believers to help keep us accountable. It's sad that people can join a church and attend for several years and the pastor never gets to know them because there's so many people.
     
  17. annsni

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    See, our pastors know each and every member because of the new member's classes that meet for 4 weeks in the pastors' homes. It's just sometimes the rest of us don't necessarily know everyone. A couple of months ago, I had someone greet me in church and ask if I was new. I just told them that I've been here for a number of years and I guess we just didn't cross paths. I hated to say that I was of of the pastors' wives (why does that always make me think of a pastor with many wives??) but was always in the sound booth so not always visible. LOL

    But the big thing that we do is small groups. Small groups in a large church are VITAL and exactly how we keep accountability, personal ministry, prayer, encouragement and such. I don't know what we'd do without our small group.
     
  18. SaggyWoman

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    One thing very difficult for many/most growing churches is to "plug people in" to small groups or Sunday school. In a smaller church, it is "easier", but it is probably more the subculture and "expectation" than it it is easier. I think we may have the same amount of resistence percentage wise.

    Small or large, it is important to integrate people into small groups, whether it be service oriented, Bible Study, mission trips, parent groups, etc. The more the merrier. Most are lost when they fail to integrate.

    I have been parts of churches of all sized, but not necessarily the mega wega churches. I think the largest I went to was 750 or so. It is still great at that level.
     
  19. Salty

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    You start mission churches - use those new converts - to become leaders in training - and you now have the opportunity to reach out even more.
     
  20. Woodymdt

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    If you have a church that is active in evangelism and outreach and has a ministry of education and is worshipping and serving God as a church body, is it really problematic whether that church has a membership of 50 or 5,000 or any number in between?

    If the Lord's work is being done, does it matter what the size of the congregation is?
     

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