Most churches start small. The problem is that some stay small.
The even bigger problem is that sometimes that smallness is due to distorted thinking (although often well intentioned) on the part of the leaders and lay people alike.
What does that thinking look and sound like, and how might it be overcome?
1. Blame it on God
“If God wants our church to grow, it will grow.” What an easy way out. Now the blame shifts from us to Him. If one thinks through such a thought pattern, the folly of such thinking will stand out. For example, does that mean that churches that are growing are the result of God playing favorites? Should believers ask God to allow a church to grow when He may have already decided that is not His plan?
Where is such thinking found in Scripture? It isn’t. If a church is small because few people live within driving distance from the church, that is understandable. But otherwise, God wants a church to grow because it’s winning the lost to Christ and discipling them to reach others.
The answer: Look inward, not upward. Ask the question, “Why is our church not growing?” Human instruments may be standing in the way. Those human instruments may be church leaders who have not trained their people in evangelism. Internal strife may make the church everything but inviting to outsiders who have heard that the church specializes more in fighting than fellowship.
2. Seeing the neighbor but not the neighborhood
“If one person comes to Christ this year, it’s worth it. God may have us here for just one person He wants to bring to Himself.”
No one could or would question the value of one’s soul, but God’s love doesn’t stop with one; it extends to everyone. It’s not the person up the street that needs Jesus; it’s every person on every street.
The answer: vision. Specialize in contacts and let God specialize in conversions. Bring Christ to everyone within driving distance of the church. As the Seed is sown, God in His time will bring forth fruit. God responds to prayer and vision. The issue isn’t the worth of a soul who lives within the community; it is the worth of every soul who lives within the community.