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  • Writer's pictureDoc Murphy

It's Mathematically IMPOSSIBLE for EVERY Congregation to grow BIG in ANY City.

Updated: Jun 3, 2023

It’s sad to keep hearing ministers say, “If a local church isn’t growing then something is wrong”. What they mean is if a small local church isn’t growing... Let’s stop the ignorance! There is nothing wrong with the shepherd or the church who has 10 people if they are doing what the Bible says concerning discipleship, outreaching, and evangelism. Healthy sheep will give birth to other sheep but that doesn’t equate to EVERY church becoming BIG.

I pastor a local church in the Branson, MO. There are at least 100 or so churches in the area. The population of Branson is 10,000+. Mathematically speaking there is no way all the churches will grow to be large congregations. First off, not everyone in any city will get saved. Next, there are only 10,000+ people in the city with 100+ churches in the area and more in the surrounding cities. If every church did what Jesus said which is to evangelize and make disciples then at best you will have a minimum number of churches, they may record numbers of 200 to 500 to 1,000 people (and many of the people are coming from other surrounding cities not just Branson), and the rest of the churches will have between 10 to 80 people. The majority of churches, just like in EVERY city in the WORLD will be small churches. They are not small because they are not doing what’s right or because they are bad leaders, it’s mathematically IMPOSSIBLE for every church to be large in that local area! Pastors can dream big, go to a million church growth conferences, read the latest and older church growth books, do Facebook ads, and add “plan your visit” to their website, but they WILL NEVER ALL GROW TO LARGE NUMBERS! AND THAT’S OK!!! Let’s stop the foolishness! Every church in that local area will reach an optimal size depending on the leader and what God wants to do with a certain leader and church.

For instance, some churches grow because God used a leader to spark a “revival” in that area and it spreads throughout the nation and world. But many of the people come from all over the world to attend not just people in the local area. This happened in a church in Brownsville, Fl, and a church in Smithton, MO. I also pastor in the DFW Metroplex and the same principle applies. NOT EVERY CHURCH WILL GROW TO LARGE NUMBERS EVEN IN DFW!! NONE of the house churches in Jerusalem, Samaria, Antioch, and the other cities in the Book of Acts grew to thousands! There were thousands of Believers in the city but not thousands in one house church. Do you get the point?

Here are some things to consider:

1. All leaders have a certain leadership capacity and capability. Some have the leadership capacity to lead 10s, 50s, 100s, and 1,000s. Exodus 18:25

2. All churches will reach their optimum growth in a city. There will NEVER be ALL large churches in any city anywhere! There are other local churches there and in the surrounding cities and the dynamics and mathematics will not allow all the churches to be a LARGE size. Also, consider many churches are in small cities. If there is a city of 1,000 people, you most likely won’t have any mega-churches there. A 30-member church there is considered a medium-size church or possibly a large church. Even if you’re in a large city of 700,000 people, there will still NEVER be ALL large churches there. There are too many churches that are doing the Great Commission and it will look more like the early church where there were many small congregations. I know we hate to admit it, but it is a reality. There will be a few large churches. Have you ever noticed that large churches are still the exception? It doesn’t mean that something is wrong with the small churches or the pastors. Paul, Jesus, or none of the other apostles ever said there was something wrong with the house churches that were planted in those cities. Why are we saying it? They were busy strengthening the churches not trying to host “Think BIG, DREAM BIG Church Growth Conferences. The only thing that is wrong with any church of any size is when they are not obeying the Bible. Also, not all large churches grow because they are obeying the Bible. You know it and I know it! Some mega churches NEED to close their doors and send the people to other churches!

Acts 9:31 The church then had peace throughout Judea, Galilee, and Samaria, and it (The Church) became stronger as the believers lived in the fear of the Lord. And with the encouragement of the Holy Spirit, it (the church) also grew in numbers.

I know we covered most of this earlier but if you read this correctly, you will notice it was talking about THE CHURCH...THE CORPORATE BODY OF CHRIST IN THOSE THREE CITIES. It was not talking about ONE local church. The whole corporate Body of Christ grew in numbers. As a result, they placed those people in local congregations in those cities. This does not mean that those local churches became MEGA churches!

3. The church in Jerusalem had thousands in the whole city. They were acknowledging the number of Believers in the whole city, not the individual local house congregations. The early church referenced the number of people in a whole city. They described KINGDOM GROWTH. As we said earlier, the average house could only hold 10-20 people. They had a multiplication of house congregations to accommodate the people who were getting saved. It was not ONE large church in one location (except for when they met at the Temple Court or Solomon’s Porch which could accommodate 30,000 to 50,000 people). It was a multitude of congregations making up ONE Body of Christ. Also, was something wrong with Jerusalem, Samaria, and Antioch churches and the pastors when they stopped at a certain number? Of course not! Everyone is not going to get saved in any city.

In the early days of the Church, multiplication also meant the number of churches that were being planted. It was not just talking about numbers in a local congregation, it was talking about the number of churches multiplied. The number of congregations multiplied. Real church growth is multiplying congregations not just multiplying people in one local congregation.

The BIG vision for the Body of Christ should be planting churches EVERYWHERE! There will be small, medium, and large congregations. We shouldn’t even be mentioning the size.

Doc Murphy

Get my book “Small Church Large Church” to learn more.

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