Karl Vaters appreciates the big churches:

Big and megachurches are great. And they get almost all the press, both positive and negative. They deserve our prayers and support, not jealousy and ridicule.

…but insists we need the small ones, too, to get the job done:

But, as valuable as they are, large congregations are not where most people receive the bulk of their spiritual nourishment and discipleship. Most of that is happening in millions of small congregations all over the world.

But the most interesting part of the article is this pointer to a little-understood research finding.

Churches in the smallest size category (under 100 in attendance) had won an average of 32 new people over the past five years; churches with 100-200 in worship also won 32; churches between 200-300 average 39 new individuals; churches between 300-400 won 25.

Most church leaders know that big churches don’t grow as fast as small churches. This is because of simple group dynamics. If you are looking at percentages, no one should compare big church to small church growth. We all know small churches grow faster on a percent-growth basis.

And it doesn’t matter. It’s not useful information. If a young married couple has a baby, they grow their family population by 50% No one is worried about the effect on world population. For people who care about world evangelism, small-church/high-growth stories are kind of a yawner, a dog-bites-man story.

But this matters: small churches don’t just make more disciples on a percentage basis. They make more disciples, period. There are far more of them, and they practically do the same work of converting people–people, count ’em, not percentages–as larger churches. Again:

Churches in the smallest size category (under 100 in attendance) had won an average of 32 new people over the past five years; churches with 100-200 in worship also won 32; churches between 200-300 average 39 new individuals; churches between 300-400 won 25.

The solution is not making the smaller churches into large churches. It’s making many, many more small churches, all the while thanking God for those few exceptions who by the rare circumstances or gifted leaders become large.