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Micro Church

31 October, 2003 12:38 PM

Small churches have their unique joys and challenges.

I've been involved in ministry in both now and find myself sometimes a little torn between the two.

I love the intimacy of smaller churches. The depth of community that I'm seeing start to emerge from our group is something I've not experienced much of before. I also love the fluidity of what we have. We have the ability to make decisions, change direction and adapt very quickly. We also are able to focus all our energies upon a given task without having to start a major strategy...or worse starting a committee.

I also love the lack of politics, administration and logistics that we have. In previous churches I've found it so easy to get bogged down in this stuff!

The stats also show smaller churches are often more effective at evangelism.

On the downside I'm constantly aware of our fragility. One person leaving or even being away for a week or two changes the dynamics of the group considerably. For one person to be away in our group is more than 10% of who we are.

There is also some potential for feeling lonely or isolated when your community is small in number. I'm not sure we've felt this too much yet because we all have strong connections with other Christians. We've also met with other smaller groups to get a sense of something bigger than ourselves.

Another challenge is that whilst we are not tied down by complex leadership structures and committees etc we actually the reality is that everyone that is part of the group is actually central in leadership. Whilst this is fantastic it also is weird. As V said the other night, we are all the elders...and the worship team...and the prayer committee...and the welcomers....etc. I personally find this refreshing, but it does add a rather new and strange dynamic.

Its been interesting making the transition from big to small. I'm interested in others experiences of big and small churches - share yours in comments.



I've been in both too. I like being able to "specialize" in a bigger church, rather than dabble in everything. But I suppose it's possible to focus even in a smaller setting. Harder, but possible.

Darryl » 31 October, 2003 1:16 PM

Priesthood of all believers, man. That's what the church was meant to be - though, with each serving according to the gifts God has given. The professionalization and specialization seen in SaddleCreek-model megachurches takes it too far, though. Good thoughts.

Justin Baeder » 31 October, 2003 1:56 PM

Ive served in both (*though I would like to point out I am NOT a pastor*) and have had the blessing of worshipping in a large large church (something like the biggest in the Sydney CBD.. and not Hills lol) The resources and connections for being able to "hold" events etc were phenomenal, however switch forward a few years to now: We are some of the first in a church plant in a new and growing suburb in Perth WA. We felt God called us here so Im not complaining ;) but... the resources are needed but not there,.. the kind of thing that in a large church are easily accessable (like space.. the sheer luxury of having space!) are not here. We do what God wants of us, but sometimes it can be the hard slog!

Jaki » 31 October, 2003 2:35 PM

I really like your thoughts Darren. I'm a part of the team in WA that Andrew Hamilton is leading and the part you wrote about all of us being worship team, prayer team was really refreshing. In our team meeting last night I was really reminded that we are all equally "accountable" to commit this whole adventure to God - we don't leave it up to Hamo to pray for it and seek God's heart on it...we have all been called and therefore all have to be on our knees praying about it. That is something that is much more apparent to me that what it was being in a church of 300+ with a large leadership team. But it's awesome and exciting!

Bec » 31 October, 2003 3:06 PM

Can you look at some of the larger churches with lots of small groups as a larger body or network of groups much like yours, Darren? Did that make sense?

I know that a larger church still as a "lead pastor" but many are still intent on having small groups with qualified and trained leaders to provide the personal and intimate leadership/ministry to the people in the said group.

But there are probably more "large" churches who are the "Come sit in our pews/chairs for an hour or two a week and be a church member" type.

Blake » 31 October, 2003 3:32 PM

At the moment I'm actually jumping between big and small. The big is Hillsong, the small you probably won't know. I enjoy both. I go to a weekday service at hills and the kids go to some activities there, but the weekend is in the small one. they both benefit me. They're very very different.

Susan » 31 October, 2003 5:45 PM

I've been in big churches but my current one is small. Some days we have 8 people, some days we have 15. It depends.

I find a small meeting cosier. It's easier to recognise people and chat with them, although building relationships is still difficult because we hardly see each other during the week. Most of us live at opposite ends of the city.

Also there's less structure, which is a refreshing change from the rigidity I've seen in some other big churches. The bigger you are the more organisation you need, and things get more formal; it's hard to be spontaneous, and the pastor becomes more of a distant figure rather than someone you can sit down and share a cup of coffee with.

At the same time, small churches don't have the resources and the networks which big churches do. There is a lack of manpower (the pastor and I take turns to play keyboard during the singing. If I'm not around, he has to do it, and then preach after that!). Plus, for an independent church, there is the question of accountability. My mom is worried that my church could be a cult. *rolls eyes*

irene » 31 October, 2003 8:18 PM

When I was 13-14 years old ('97-'98) I was at an independent church of about 20 people, near in the Dandenong area. I'm now at what I'd call a a medium sized (150?) mainline church, in Ballarat.
What I found at the small church was that eveyone was encouraged to and needed to be involved in running the church. What I find at my current church (and other medium sized churches I've been at) is that if new people aren't musical they aren't asked to participate, but just show up.
I've also found that people who are passionate about sharing the gospel are few, and their flames are often doused by less enthusiastic members of the church, sometimes intentionally.
My last point is that with larger churches you've got more people that the church has to suit. Different people have different needs, and I think that many small, diverse churches would be more effective than one big church that tries to suit eveyone. Most large or medium churches just end up targeting the conservative middle class.

Christop » 1 November, 2003 2:19 PM

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