I've heard many people say over the last year that, as we enter into the 21st century, it will not be the size of the church that matters, but its health that will ensure its survival.
I doubt if most people realize that more than 100,000 churches in the United States have 50 attendees or less. That means that the average church will have fewer than 100 worshippers this Sunday. So, in spite of all the press the megachurches receive, we are still a nation of small to medium-sized churches.
For some pastors, serving in a small church creates something of a self-image problem. We look at the big church on the hill, compare ourselves to that operation, and feel inadequate or insignificant. NOT SO, MY FRIEND! In The Heart of a Great Pastor (Regal Books), Neil Weisman and I write, "Every assignment is holy ground because Jesus gave Himself for the people who live there. Every place is important because God wants you to accomplish something supernatural there. Every situation is special because ministry is needed there. Like Queen Esther, you have come to the Kingdom for such a time as this. All of these factors give a pastor a much-needed sense of destiny about his assignment." In other words, there are no small assignments, and there are none of you who are insignificant in any way.
So, what about the health of the church? May I suggest a few guidelines for assessing the health of a congregation of any size?
I'm sure there are many other "good health indicators" for churches of any size, but I urge you to consider these we have listed, then add your own ideas to the mix. One thing I know, Christianity needs you to find a way to make your ministry meaningful and to help change the way pastors and laymen alike look at the church of Jesus Christ. We are rooting for you!
"You should see the church they attend," Lucille said, armed with bulletin and newsletter. Creases formed across my brow as celebration gave way to comparisons a trap that had sprung too many times.
The greatest power ever known is the spoken Word of God. Yet, in far too many pulpits, that powerful Word lies unopened, unspoken and, therefore, uncomprehended.
I think the one thing that I prayed for most often during the three decades of my pastoral ministry was revival in the church I pastored. I remember praying at first for a return to something, although I wasn't exactly sure what — just something that once was, a happening, a spirit, a feeling.