The Ideal Sized Congregation? Try 500!

March 14, 2011 — 3 Comments

Great churches come in a variety of sizes, very large ones, medium-sized ones and smaller ones.
It is a mistake to read the above points, to agree with them, and then to discount the vital role mega churches play in the strategy of God for reaching the world. God has in mind to use mega churches in great ways in our day. Above all else I believe he wants to redeem these churches to do great works of evangelism across America. Done rightly such churches can serve as catalysts for the greater community they find themselves in so that churches of all sizes can gain confidence for evangelism.

An equally disastrous mistake would be to arrogantly discount the above points as irrelevant rants.

I believe the most efficient church size is…500.
I stated this conclusion several years ago in a book based on the numerous observations made in that book (Making A Good Church Great, Regal, 2010). I am more convinced now than ever that my original hunch was correct.
Ponder this: it would be more productive to produce 10 life-giving churches of 500 in weekend attendance than in building one mega church of 5,000.
I believe there is ample evidence to make the point that the per capita level of spiritual vitality is usually greater at a medium-sized church versus a single mega one. The individual Believer will likely evidence greater fruit of discipleship in medium sized churches than in mega ones.

Mega church pastors are called by God to accomplish great things.
I don’t wish anything ominous upon the shoulders of my mega church brethren, yet it is a fact that to whom much is given much is required. Those who lead very large congregations will stand before God in the not too distant future to give an account of the way they acted as stewards of the provision of God in their time as the leader of an immense congregation with immense resources.

How did I do as a teacher? Did I boldly and lovingly present to my people the uncompromising truth of the Gospel?
How did I do as a model? Did I show my people the life of Jesus through my life?
Did we do the work of evangelism? Did we consistently, profoundly seek to
bring our city to Jesus?
Were the poor shown an abundance of the mercy of God?

Such questions put the fear of the Lord in me. With this burden of responsibility in mind I don’t miss a day of my time of leading a mega church. I pray mercy upon you if you are a pastor in a congregation of this sort.

If you are a pastor in another size congregation you have it easier in many ways. Pray for mega church pastors near you. I hope you will mutually stir up the “love and good deeds” Scripture calls us to walk in.

  • http://www.scottcheatham.com Scott Cheatham

    I think there is value in all the different sizes we are seeing today. Neil Cole writes from a micro-church perspective, most books today seems to write from the big perspective. I like what you wrote years ago in the “Perfectly Imperfect Church” about congregations and their makeup. I’ve worn that particular book out sharing it with others and highlighting it’s insights.

  • http://ajesusmoment.com Steve

    I know Scott already mentioned your book “perfectly Imperfect Church” but we still use a lot of the principles in that book in guiding our church. I will have to check out “Making a good church great”.

  • Christina Hamilton Costa

    If I think back to my favorite time in our church, it was when we were at the barn. Maybe that was about 500 people or so. I loved the intimacy of the 14 people when the church started, and I was a teenager then. And as the Vineyard became mega, the intimacy was lost. It took going inside the small group setting have that intimacy again. The church inside the church. But at the barn… It was wonderful. We weren’t so small we were inside a living room, but we weren’t lost in a crowd. The church itself was to young to have all the organization and power plays and we were truly focused on God and one another in our spiritual growth. That was my perfect time. It probably wasn’t 500, maybe 100. 500 was probably the school cafeteria.