Many smaller churches feel extremely limited by their size, believing that they simply cannot do much of what they would like to do, or believe they should do. Before I suggest what smaller churches can do, let's first consider two things smaller churches do not have to do.
You do not need to compete with other churches in town. Of course this is true of all Christ's churches regardless of size, but while competition is alive and well among evangelical churches and institutions, it does a lot of harm in our smaller congregations. Even if we can't match another church's numbers we will try and find a way to out-perform them. There are a number of comparison games churches can play with one another but all of them stem from losing sight of Jesus' gospel and mission for the church.
Competition is out of place among Christ's churches for we make up one church, sharing one message, serving one Lord. To compete with another body means we are unhappy over what God is doing in and through them and dissatisfied with what God is doing in and through us.
I can't tell you how often I have felt the need to apologize for the size of my church. When people ask about what God is doing we often do not want to mention our size-- and are praying they don't ask.
Before I was a part of Acts 29 a leader in an A29 church was asking about Redeemer, and when I dismissively said something to the effect of, "Well, we have around 50 people, it's just a tiny church." he interrupted me to say, "No! That is amazing! You and your people are serving the Lord, making disciples. God is at work! Tell me more." The more we focus on our size, the less we tend to see of Jesus and what he is currently doing.
Stop apologizing for your size. We need churches, healthy churches, of every size and shape.
Competition and apologizing only begins to vanish when we are focused on the Christ and the mission. And know this--the mission Jesus gave the church is neither size-dependant nor fulfilled by one church. Carry on the mission to make disciples by reaching out, digging deep, and raising up. Things we will look at in the next post.