07 Apr An Easter Thank You
I just wanted to take a moment to thank everyone who made Easter 2018 at Mosaic what it was. From all our volunteers who attended one and served one (or more!) to our creative arts folks to our worship team, staff, deacons and anyone else who just stepped up to do something unseen on a busy day—it was truly a team effort, so thank you.
And if you were here for the first time on Easter, and you are receiving this email for this first time, thank you so much for being with us last Sunday! We hope you come back—and that brings me to the point of this email.
Obviously, the big difference for the church this year (if you didn’t know) was the move (for one day only) to four services. Given the implications of the decision (volunteer resources, primarily), we definitely wrestled behind the scenes to make sure we were making the right decision. But if you were here on Sunday, you know that all four services were very full (one was over capacity). Our total for the day was just under 1900, which may not seem like such a big deal to some, but if you have been here for a while, you know what a significant thing that is.
The reason I bring that number up is only to celebrate the fact that increasing numbers of people are being exposed to the Christian message of the Resurrection, and for the brief purposes of this email, to talk about what that number means…so here goes (and by the way, the book of Acts regularly reports about the numbers of people gathered together in Jesus’ name for the sake of encouraging the church, so I think we are in safe territory here):
For lots of reasons, depending on your church background, people tend to deeply moralize about church size, usually something along these lines:
Small church = good; large church = bad
large church = good; small church = bad
medium size church (whatever that means!) = “just right”; small and large = bad
I honestly wish the church of Jesus would stop moralizing about size. Saying things like, “A small church doesn’t know how to lead people” or “large churches don’t know how to take care of people” are evidences of some kind of bias that lie in people’s hearts.
Just so you know, studies have shown there is no correlation between church size and church health. A church can be small and healthy; a church can be large and healthy. A church can be small and dysfunctional; a church can be large and dysfunctional. A way of putting it would be like this: yes, healthy things grow (like flowers and children), but unhealthy things can grow, too (like weeds and cancer). The issue isn’t size, it’s health.
All churches, small, medium and large struggle with different things to remain healthy—because churches primarily deal in the currency of people, and people can be (and are!) complicated.
Unfortunately, most of the books I have read and information I have been exposed to about church size don’t tend to help people navigate well this issue in their heart. Most books also moralize, casting a shadow of suspicion across the reputation and even motives of people on the opposite end of the size spectrum than they.
Personally, I am so glad for all the churches in the greater Austin area, small, medium and large, who love Jesus, preach his Gospel, and seek to love people well and make disciples well. I’m glad we are not alone and are a part of the capital “C” church! I am friends with many pastors of churches of all sizes across the city, and they are all amazing leaders who want the best for their people and the city.
I Corinthians 12 makes it clear—God is arranging His body, and our task is simply to ask “What kind of church does Jesus want us to be?”
The answer to that question will always require growth and stretching of one kind or another, and require empathy of church members towards church leadership.
Why do I use that word empathy?
Consider these two facts, according to church researcher Lyle Schaller:
- small churches usually reach fewer people (picture how hard it is sometimes to become a part of a tight-knit group) but tend to do a better job of caring for its members
- large churches can struggle with caring for members, but tend to reach more unsaved people, single people and have greater odds of success at being multiethnic.
In theory, though, a church should aim to do all these well—care for its members, and reach new people. This is challenging, which is why, again, empathy is crucial towards church leadership, as it struggles to both care for existing members and mobilize the church to reach new people as well, whether it is small, medium or large.
What size should a church be? My answer, and I hope yours would be—whatever size Jesus wants it to be. It’s His, after all.
And, I hope you would say, along with me, that as long as there is one unsaved person in Austin, the church of Jesus isn’t big enough.
P.S. In case you missed it, we will be continuing on in our journey through Genesis on Sunday, but putting a new filter on it: for the next month we will be looking at some of the more “interesting” and “complicated” characters of Genesis, in a series called “Liars, Cheaters, Thieves and Villains”.
I hope to see you Sunday!