Moving, Summer Schedule and New Email Address
"A Former Pastor Goes Church Shopping" - my post is up on Leadership Journal's blog Out of Ur

Small church vs. large church

On Out of Ur, the Leadership journal blog, the latest post is about two nonChristians who have been attending churches in Toronto.  The post is called: "Razzmatazz or Ragamuffins? Two non-Christians paid to visit churches are impressed with charity not facilities."

They were turned off by the megachurches they visited but were moved by the devotion to Jesus by a small church that served the homeless.  I posted the following comment. 

This post is exactly right to point out that churches without flash and pizzazz can still definitely show people who Jesus is.  Small churches do not have the resources to put on a fancy Sunday morning show.  They should be who they are - equipping their people to serve and showing the community Jesus by serving them.  Many, who are not attracted to the slick production, will be attracted by them. 

But I do question the implication that the majority of young people and unchristian people are not attracted to quality Sunday morning programming.  I do not think we can make that conclusion based on the opinions of these 2 college students.       

My experience is that more young adults and nonchristians are attracted to megachurches and cool emerging churches than poor social justice churches.  But I would be thrilled to be wrong.

The sample size of two is inconclusive.  Are there statistics about how many people are coming to Christ in megachurches vs. small-churches that are more oriented toward social justice?  There are many sociologists people out there doing research on this kind of thing: Gallup, Barna, Christian Smith, Christian Schwarz (Natural Church Development), Lilly Endowment, Baylor survey, denominational stats, and the Alban Institute.

There is still a place I think for quality Sunday morning programming (welcoming, music,  and preaching) for the purpose of drawing in new people and equipping the Christians.  And yet it is easy to spend all of a church's resources on the Sunday morning show.

May the Spirit of God give us eyes to see what he is doing through the variety of church forms.

Further thoughts:

I want to affirm small churches and churches that care for the poor.  I also want large churches to appreciate these small churches.  Posts like this one on Out of Ur serve to do that.  That is good. 

But it also bothers me when churches don't at least try to have quality Sunday morning programming.  (The end results will vary depending on the size of the church.  A church of 500 can do more than a church of 30 in terms of quality programming). 

This probably bothers me because this is one of my strengths - organizing people into a team to improve Sunday morning programming.  (See my post "How to plan and lead worship.") I just don't want churches to get complacent thinking that the quality of the Sunday morning programming is irrelevant to their outreach to young adults and nonChristians.  I think the seeker folks (like Granger Community Church and Willowcreek Community Church) are right to urge churches to welcome people well, clearly explain the elements of the service to them, and try to relate the eternal truths of Scripture to the world of today.