Monday, February 9, 2009

Underdog Churches in the Missional Renaissance

Chuck Warnock interviews Reggie McNeal on the advantages smaller communities have when success is defined more missionally.
CW: I write for small churches which are often not included as role models for others. Do you think that small churches can be missional and serve as legitimate missional models?

RMc: One of the things about the missional renaissance is that it makes the old pecking order based on size of attractional crowd really irrelevant to missional effectiveness. I work with congregations from weekly worship attendance of less than three dozen to churches running over 10,000. The issue is not the size of the crowd, but the impact on the community. “Small” attendance congregations have been beaten up for decades now in the old church growth scorecard. Getting out of that game can let them be winners in a missional measure. I think this is very hopeful for small congregations who really don’t want to consume all the energy to “grow” but to release their congregations to be missionaries.

Emphasis mine.

This is not really a big church/small church issue, I don't think. There are faithful, healthy big churches and faithful, healthy small churches, just as there are unhealthy big churches and unhealthy small churches. The issue is whether size really matters. And maybe it does. But in the burgeoning "new order" of church growth, maintaining a small church no longer means failure.

HT: Les Puryear


Bob said...

I've been blessed with some recent exposure to a small church with big impact. Attendance on an average Sunday totals about 200 across 3 services. Total membership roles amount to about 600. There are 5 small groups. About 40% of the attenders are 65+.

But this group has literally transformed (and is transforming) their immediate neighborhood from a home to drugs, homosexuality, prostitution, and poverty to one with community centers for kids, decent housing, job training, language training (ESL), tutoring, a growing business district with upscale housing to form a more balanced community. They lead the town in "green technology" with eco-friendly development and fair trade businesses. They attract 300 kids every Wednesday from the neighborhood for a meal, games, and the gospel. (not the youth group--an outreach)

When you walk into the church, there's really nothing going on other than worship (if you call that nothing). But when you step out of the church, you cannot escape its presence.

All this from a small church bearing the name of a "dying denomination"

Jared said...

Bob, that is awesome.

Do they have a website or other presence online some of us can check out to get a deeper glance at what they do and how?

Bob said...

Zion Lutheran Church

Anonymous said...

Jared, thanks for picking this up from Les. Things do travel on the net. I'd like to hear about your church. Email me - chuckwarnock at gmail dot com. Thanks.