“Is this helpful to the Kingdom? Don’t you just love it when Christianity Today blogs attack churches?”
Christianity Today even tried to distance themselves from the Out of Ur post.
Really? Over-reacting much?
Believe it or not, this all reignites that age old discussion on church growth.
Recapping the Conversation
Tony Morgan went on to clarify his position, explaining that “the ‘Out of UR’ deal is funny. And it’s also perpetrating the lie that God wants his churches to stay small. Satan wants small churches.”
Then Ryan Guard, a high school pastor in California, called him out on it, saying, “That could be a pretty discouraging thing for a pastor of a small church to hear.”
So Morgan clarified again: “Point taken. Typed too fast. Wanted to say ‘stay small.’ All healthy churches should be growing … no matter the size.”
Then I jumped in and asked Morgan if he meant numerical growth or any growth. He said both, as modeled in Acts.
What’s the Point?
So why am I rehashing a Twitter conversation from two days ago? Because I think it’s important.
Morgan got upset when the Out of Ur blog poked fun at megachurches. Morgan didn’t like that the Out of Ur blog perpetuated a myth about megachurches (Technically, Out of Ur insinuated that megachurches are impersonal. Morgan interpreted that as an attack and a stance that churches should be small).
But I think this is bigger than small or large churches. I think it’s really about a much bigger question, the oft-debated can of worms about church growth. Are all healthy churches growing?
And here we might enter into a semantics debate.
What do you mean by healthy?
Amputating a leg doesn’t sound very healthy, but it’s a lot healthier than the leg rotting from gangrene.
What do you mean by growing?
Numerical growth is only one kind of growth, though it’s easily the first thing people think of when you talk about growing churches.
I don’t have any answers here. I have questions, but no answers. Since the Out of Ur blog doesn’t seem to be approving comments to the post in question, let’s talk about it here.
- Is your church growing?
- How is it growing?
- Is your church healthy?
- What makes it healthy?
- Does size have anything to do with it?
This shouldn’t be a debate over big vs. small. Morgan wants to defend the cause of large churches. And Shane Claiborne might be a good advocate to defend the cause of small churches.
But to paraphrase Claiborne, what the world really needs is not big churches or small churches but a Church.
You might also want to check out a series on church growth we did in 2006, especially my wrap-up post talking about how it doesn’t help when we assume the worst about one another. (Somewhat ironically, Tony Morgan comes up in that series as well.) And for a biblical take on numbers, here’s a 2007 post.