How Large Should a Church Be?

How large should a medical practice be? 10,000 patients? 5000? 50 families? Recently a physician with whom I am acquainted announced he is dropping his regular practice to create a “boutique practice.” As I understand it, he will limit his practice to a smaller number of families who will each pay him $25,000 per year for comprehensive medical care. The Physician (or a colleague) will be readily available almost any time. No waiting for appointments! No waiting to see the doctor! This physician aspires to do better medicine, to make more money, and not have to work so hard.

How large should a church be? Years ago the Central Church of Seoul had in excess of 250,000 members. Most of Central’s worshipers met in “house” churches. In recent years in America, “Mega” churches have sprung up, with 5000 to 35,000 participants/adherents. Their corporate governance is usually made up of a very small number: Perhaps a dozen. They have the financial resources to do comprehensive programs and ministries and to stage spectacular events, much like one would see in Las Vegas, but with religious themes and content.

By sheer necessity, the religious content presented in Mega Churches is simple, and built on Biblical literalism.

Pilgrim Chapel is—as churches go–more like a “boutique” medical practice; only, it does not cost each family $25000-$50,000 each year. But, we can have messages and Bible Studies that go deeper than the surface. We can have spectacular musicians. We do have a set of personal relationships similar to those of a functional family. We are encouraged to grow spiritually at our own pace. We can celebrate in ways special to our community. But EVERY one of us is needed. And EVERY one of us is missed when he/she is away.

It seems to me that—when it comes to churches–no one size fits all. In fact, at different times in our lives, each of us may need to be in different faith environments, much as children need Pediatricians, and the elderly need Geriatricians, Rheumatologists, Cardiologists, et al.

It seems to me that the Call of God is to do our best to be holy; to think and be intentional; allow the Love of God’s Holy Spirit to flow into and through us; to highly value all other people and to practice sensitivity, courtesy, kindness, generosity, hospitality and charity.