Growing Your Church Small

Originally published in www.sbctoday.com January 12, 2012

You have a goal that your church must accomplish. If you want your church to grow, you must keep it small.

It’s neither an oxymoron nor a paradox. It is simply this: as the church grows larger, the fellowship must grow deeper. Deeper fellowship gives the church a sense of being small. That’s what you want–a sense that the church is small.

How do you accomplish making your church “small?”

John Maxwell said it this way: “You walk slowly through the crowds.” I once had a pastor who never walked slowly through the crowds. He was in constant motion. He never seemed to have time for people. Though the church really was small, he lacked giving any meaningful time to people. I never felt that he had time for me and, consequently, I never felt valued by him. As I look back over the years, I realize that he was a fine man. He didn’t intend to harm me. But his actions kept the church from accomplishing so many things which God values. My posts on breaking the 100 barrier  and staffing to grow not to plateau deals with some of the same issues of growing a church.

Maxwell counsels giving people time. Walk slowly through the crowds. Smile, look people in the eye, shake hands, call names.

We all want to know and to be known. When pastors, deacons, teachers, and other church members walk slowly through the crowds spending time with people, we make the church small, caring, and intimate. When the pastor is too busy for people, he chokes the life and growth out of the church.

Jesus always walked slowly through the crowds. Remember the story of the woman with the hemorrhage? In the midst of a huge crowd with people pressing on every side, she simply touched the hem of his garment. Jesus asked: “Who touched me?” The disciples ridiculed Him because everyone had touched Him!

Jesus knew when a single, (seemingly) insignificant person touched Him. He walked slowly through the crowds and gave attention to people. He made the crowd seem small. We need to do the same with the church.

I know pastors will take this to heart. I want church members to do the same. All of us are the key to making the church small–that is, warm, intimate, personal, and caring. Please make it your responsibility to keep the church small even as it grows larger. In fact, keeping the church small will almost insure that it reaches more people.

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4 Comments


  1. Diane S. Baker
    Jan 17, 2012

    I love this blog. I have always thought FBC was a large church with a small church feeling. I feel loved and welcomed even though I’m among hundreds of people each Sunday. You and others make that possible.


  2. Lisa L
    Jan 17, 2012

    I love this post! You are so right and I have loved every visit I have been too and look forward to many more….


  3. Waylon
    Jan 17, 2012

    Thanks, we all want to be somewhere that we are wanted. I have told our people for years–it’s hard to keep people away from a place where they are loved.


  4. Judy Masterson
    Jan 22, 2012

    In the past few days this realization of how small our church is has blessed my heart immensely. I can’t describe how precious it was that 2 pastors and a church secretary showed up at the hospital when we indicated we could possibly have gone home, and other staff & office members called. Add to that, all I needed was to call one dear friend and I knew the information would be passed on responsibly and prayers would begin immediately. It’s such a blessing to know that although we attend a large church numbers-wise you and Martha know us personally and called, prayed and offered any assistance we may need. This continually baffles my mind and warms my heart. I shared my thoughts about this very subject with friends from Michigan saying FBC is the largest small church I’ve ever experienced! Thank you, my family, at FBC!

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I am the senior pastor of First Baptist Church, Covington, Louisiana, a position that I have held since 1989.

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And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. — 1 John 4:16 (NIV)