Church Growth: The Difference Between Big and Small Churches

According to Ed Stetzer

A new study by Rodney Stark of Baylor University, now available in book form here, is dispelling the popular caricature of the megachurch as spiritual entertainment for the quasi-Christian baby-boomer. What Americans Really Believe reveals that megachurch members tend to be younger, practice evangelism more frequently, and are bigger on volunteerism than those in smaller churches. Oops. There go the stereotypes. And they aren’t abandoning the harder, counter-cultural doctrines of the Christian faith either.

So … call me crazy … but could this be, you know, important? Could it be that these churches got big because of the kind of Christians they produce? Could it be that you grow through evangelism and volunteerism? I should write a book! But it fits in a tract. A sentence actually: Keep your doctrine Biblical, your culture attractive to the young (where nearly all conversions come from), evangelize like crazy, and help the needy like Jesus — and watch God give the increase.

Compare this to a more common strategy: keep your doctrine traditional, your culture attractive to the older members (where nearly all contributions come from), talk about evangelism, and set aside $500 for beggars who come to the door — and blame God for not giving any increase.

Sorry if I sound just a tad caustic, but I’m just sick of hearing people blame God for things that are entirely our own fault.

About Jay F Guin

My name is Jay Guin, and I’m a retired elder. I wrote The Holy Spirit and Revolutionary Grace about 18 years ago. I’ve spoken at the Pepperdine, Lipscomb, ACU, Harding, and Tulsa lectureships and at ElderLink. My wife’s name is Denise, and I have four sons, Chris, Jonathan, Tyler, and Philip. I have two grandchildren. And I practice law.
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3 Responses to Church Growth: The Difference Between Big and Small Churches

  1. Matthew says:

    I had a great experience with a 1000 member congregation in the Memphis area this past week. It was eye-opening to see the difference in organization from a smaller church to a larger one.

  2. Jay Guin says:


    It's good hear from you. I thought sure you'd be too upset over the football fortunes of the Volunteers to participate.

    I think the Tide heads to Knoxville in 9 days. Ah … the anticipation!

  3. Joe Baggett says:

    Many people in many churches today say "God gives the increase so we can't grow". If here this one more time I think I'll vomit. This is a cop out for standing around and doing nothing or the same thing over and over again.

    Jesus and the Apostles say we are in charge of planting, watering, and cultivating and God is in charge of the light that makes everything grow.

    There are many churches who have failed to learn how to plant, water, and cultivate in the post modern soil that we find ourselves. They are still planting seeds from a bag of seeds dated 1950, these seeds were to convince the people in erring denominations that their way of doing church was wrong and the churches of Christ is right.

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