Myth: The cell church strategy is a mega-church strategy.
When I first started writing about cell churches, a steering committee directed me to study the largest worldwide cell churches because they were the most prominent. I was told that people would recognize them more readily and benefit more from my study.
I encountered one major obstacle, however. Practically all those in my seminars were from smaller churches. Many felt inadequate as I gave example after example of large cell churches. Whether I meant to or not, my underlying message was that growing large was a sure sign of success. Should growing into a large cell church be the goal?
Truth: Few cell churches reach mega-church status.
Most churches around the world have between fifty to one hundred people. According to the Hartford Study on North American churches, the average church in North America has seventy-five Sunday worshippers. Even in Korea, the land admired for the world’s largest churches, most churches are very small.
When we constantly promote large churches in our conferences, books, blogs, and articles, we give the impression that smaller churches are failures. They are not.
My friend Ben Wong and I have often discussed the problem of smaller cell churches feeling inadequate when we have always emphasized the importance of mega-cell churches. Wong writes,
Small churches comprise the great majority of churches in the world. Most pastors became pastors because they love God and desire to love his people. The reality is that in a small church, this can happen most effectively. In fact to become larger than 80 people, the pastor will need to become more administrative, and he may need a skill he does not have. Large churches need entrepreneurs, and very few pastors are like this.
In my book, Planting Churches That Reproduce: Starting a Network of Simple Churches, I emphasize the need for smaller more reproducible cell churches that generate new church plants at a smaller size.
Smaller churches are here to stay. God has and will use them for His glory. Pastors who are planting cells, reaching the lost, making disciples, and planting new churches need to feel confident they are on the right track.