I’m spending time at a church in the middle of the east end of London, with a heart for social inclusion and reintegration. The congregation has grown from about 15 to 80 over 5 years. The church is also home to an education centre for kids who might, with enough encouragement, go to university, a GP referral gym, several community groups and forums, and a cafe which attracts local families, working people on lunch break, veiled mums waiting for the education project to open, people needing a drink after a gym session, etc etc. They are taking on a full time youth worker from June.
At the moment, the vicar knows the names of the whole congregation (what a gift, to remember names so effectively) but if the church continues to grow that will inevitably change. Will that irreversibly change the dynamic of the church, and will that change be positive or negative? Or should the church remain at about this size, and continue to assess and change its focus, adapting to the needs of the community around it.
There is an assumption in church leadership that bigger is better, but is that right? In a place without congregational members who are educated and honed in leadership, would it be more appropriate to espouse the ‘small is beautiful’ model? Answers on a postcard, please….