by Church Times

Dr. Francis Akin-Bola John

I want my church to grow. I want your church to grow. But more than anything, I want the church to grow. I want as many people as possible, all over the world, to know Jesus. The fulfillment of the great commission is the heartbeat of true church growth. The good news of the gospel can’t be confined within the walls of any church, the distinctiveness of any denomination, the borders of any country, or the customs of any culture.

And it’s precisely because I want the gospel of Jesus to reach the greatest number of people, that I am an avid supporter, promoter, and encourager of healthy small churches.

Big and megachurches are great but majority of the church in the world will not become a big or mega church. And they get almost all the press, both positive and negative. They deserve our prayers and support, not second-guessing, jealousy, and ridicule. But, as valuable as they are, large congregations are not where most people receive the bulk of their spiritual nourishment. Most of that is happening in millions of small congregations in many localities all over the world.

According to recent research from Ed Stetzer and Christian Schwarz, “The statistics tell us that ten smaller churches of 100 people will accomplish much more than one church of 1000.”

If you could choose to do just one thing to support and strengthen the growth of the church around the world, it’s hard to imagine a better investment than multiplying, encouraging, and equipping healthy small churches. That is why I wrote this book and desire that every church leader will focus on making every local church healthy.

In the business world, massive companies like Google, McDonald’s, and Coca-Cola get all the attention. But it’s small businesses that drive the economy by creating the majority of jobs. The same is true for the church. Big churches get the attention, but its small churches that drive the growth of the global church. Many denominations only thrive on the strength of their local churches.

When was the last time you heard that truth stated? Have you ever? Well, it’s here in this book.

We often talk about how many small congregations there are. But those figures are almost universally seen as a problem to be fixed, instead of an asset we should support and strengthen.

The reason I support healthy small churches isn’t because I deny the value of numerical growth. I support small churches because that is where most global church growth is taking place. More people are led to Jesus, discipled, and sent back out into ministry through the ministry of small churches than by any other means. In fact, most mega churches find it hard to release people than local churches.

Church growth does not require small churches to become big churches. Some will. Most won’t. What church growth has meant and will continue to mean in most of the world, is more healthy small churches, not necessarily bigger ones. Small churches aren’t going away; they’re multiplying. It’s a mystery as to why we have so little teaching, support and resources dedicated to doing small church ministry well.

If healthy small churches are exploding all over the world, leading some of the greatest revivals in history-which they are-why isn’t every church leader in the world celebrating, supporting, and promoting more healthy small churches?

Is it because of a western (mostly American) bias for bigness? I think so. Most concept of church growth in Africa is tailored after the American mindset.

Bigger churches may be the way the American church is growing. (Even that’s debatable, though.) But they’re not the primary cause for the growth of the church globally. That’s happening almost exclusively due to the multiplication-in some places, the explosion-of smaller congregations.

If you’re a small church pastor, take heart. You’re not a failure. Just make sure your small church is healthy.

You and your church are an indispensable asset in the eternally valuable task of reaching the world for Jesus.

Small churches may be Christianity’s most overlooked, underutilized asset. If they’ve been reaching the world while we’ve been looking the other way, just imagine what they could do with our support. Therefore, I implore every reader of this book – pastors, denominational leaders, senior pastors and lovers of the Body of Christ to take the development, health and dynamism of local churches very seriously. The local church is God’s way to reach the world for Christ. It’s time to support and strengthen her to be all round healthy. Because every healthy local church is Big in God’s plan to win the world for Him.

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