Is a big or small church better? It has always been a hot debate.
Now, in the post-pandemic era, Pastor W intends to transform and abandon the argument between big churches and small churches, while focusing on the micro church. He also mentions that the one-room church model, which is currently emerging in Europe, America, and other parts of the world, is a manifestation of the global micro church movement.
Pastor W says that over the past 20 years, he and many pastors have been influenced by the super-large church model prevalent in Europe, America, and South Korea. There is the belief that the church one serves should be a part of the largest church in Asia and even the world. Many pastors of churches in China have supported this myth and have been influenced by super-large churches abroad. They have been determined to make the church bigger and stronger, regarding a super-large or mega-church as the ideal.
However, after so many years of service, Pastor W’s ideas have changed significantly and he notes that global churches are increasingly acknowledging the value of micro churches as a church model. He says: “I think the church in China should support the route of the micro church. I think this is a worthwhile model that the church in China must value in the future.”
He explains that many super-large churches abroad have adopted the large-church model and many churches in China have adopted that system to manage and develop during the past decade or so. However, in more recent years, due to factors such as the pandemic, it has become difficult for the church to sustain its normal operation. “We must seriously consider our actual situation, which is completely different from those of megachurches.” Therefore “the pastors of Chinese churches must seriously consider their own situation and make careful choices. They cannot completely copy the practices of super-large churches.”
At present, Pastor X adopts the “dual-track system”, walking on both legs at the same time. On the one hand, he maintains the previous concept of large pastoral areas and church gatherings. But at the same time, he expands the concept of micro-pastoral areas, that is, micro churches.
In his view, micro churches can avoid many of the problems of large churches, such as high cost and inflexibility. Moreover, the micro church is not strictly a concept of small churches. In fact, it emphasizes network expansion beyond decentralization. Instead of trapping the church in a big venue or a small place, it re-conceives the church as a loose network. It can involve only a few believers in a house, a small group, or a small fellowship, and its place can be where you live and work. In fact, the place is not the most important because the indicators for the healthy growth of churches have changed. Not the size of the scale and the number of people, not the number of Sunday worship participants, but connectivity and participation rate are what matters most now. The micro church model is very effective for the promotion of both of these last factors.
Pastor X says that although micro churches are not as complicated as the system of large churches, there must be strategies for building up micro churches. It is not enough to simply adopt the once-familiar system of the large church, nor to simply place a dozen people in a given place. One must instead set up a support and management team to manage micro churches.
He stresses that so-called decentralization allows more believers to participate in the service, rather than letting a few full-time persons retain all the church power. This is actually a return to the early church model of the Apostolic period – allowing everyone to be disciples and to participate in the service.
In the micro church, because of the size of the church, as the saying goes: “A small boat makes a good turn” (a Chinese idiom meaning how convenient things can be if they are smaller in scale or bureaucracy). There are many things that can be done flexibly. “But not everything is like this. There are some things that must be coordinated, such as personnel or financial management. These things can not be delegated to micro churches. To let them take charge of everything will only bring problems and corruption,” Pastor X finally stresses.
- Translated by Charlie Li