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  • Writer's pictureDoc Murphy

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

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... There are some churches that have grown to 1,000, 10,000, 20,000, and so forth and have stopped growing. These same ministers NEVER say those churches are stagnated, or something is wrong with the leaders or something is wrong with the church. No, if you’re going to say that something is wrong with the small church that stopped at 20 people, then something is wrong with the large church that stopped at 2,000 people. Let’s stop the ignorance! There is nothing wrong with the guy or the church who has 20 people as long as they are doing what the Bible says concerning discipleship, outreaching, and evangelism. Keep reading...

I pastor a local church in the Branson area. 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 of the churches will grow to be large. 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 with 200, 500 to 1,000 people (and many of them are coming from other surrounding cities), and the rest 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! They 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, they WILL NEVER 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 a 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 people start coming from all over the world to attend not just 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!! Not every house church in Jerusalem, Samaria, Antioch, and the other cities in the Book of Acts grew to thousands!

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 BIG 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 in Jerusalem where there are 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 grew because they were 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.

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!

  1. 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. The average house could only hold 8-10 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. 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.

Acts 2:41 Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day. 42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer (This all happened in different homes). 43 Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts (which held about 400 people at a time). They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

Acts 4:4 But many of the people who heard their message believed it, so the number of men who believed now totaled about 5,000.

This was the number of people (or men) who believed in the whole city, not in one local house congregation.

  1. 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. There is no such thing as a large church pastor or a small church pastor. They are both just pastors who should be making disciples and doing their best to reach their city.

Acts 16:4 Then they went from city to city, making known the decision concerning the Gentiles, as decided by the apostles and elders in Jerusalem. 5 So the church grew daily in faith and numbers.

These verses were talking about THE CHURCH, not A CHURCH. They went from city to city. It was saying they went to the corporate Body of Christ from city to city and strengthened them and THE CHURCH (whole Body of Christ in those cities) grew in numbers.

Doc Murphy

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

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