Luke 5:16

Critical Mass

“Mark” is a quiet guy.  He’s the soft-spoken, gentle-spirited kind.  A loving husband and a stay-at-home dad to two beautiful girls.  However, Mark has decided that our home group is too big.  He feels as though his personality can’t overcome the size of the group and the inability to input an opinion.  You’re probably thinking, how big is this group, anyway?  30? 40?

15!  Tops.

So, am I disheartened or bitter because Mark and his family are leaving?  “Suck it up, man!  Step up and say something!  Don’t be shy!”  No, I’m not.  Because I realize that he may actually be right.

There are many studies and opinions on the perfect size for a small group or house church.  Many say that 20 is pushing the limits of intimacy and participation.  Geoff Surratt says that groups should be “big enough to dare, but small enough to care.”  But what is that magic number (if there is one)?

But, just like God’s timing, his math is perfect, too.  There is no magic number, only the perfect combination of elements that only God can develop within a group.

So, I guess what I take away from it is that what’s right in one scenario is definitely not right for every scenario.  I don’t think we’re ready to “birthe” a new group just yet.  I don’t think we’ve reached that point where we’re suited to send some of our group out to grow into a group of their own.  We’re still figuring out how to do what we’re already doing, much less equip and send out new leaders.  But we do need to consider whether or not we should try and grow before we are ready to “give birth.”  And we need to be prepared for when God calls part of our membership to take on leadership of their own and be supportive of that.

Perhaps, we’ve reached our critical mass already, but God has bigger plans for our little group.

And to Mark’s family… we love you!  We support your decision!  And we hope that we will be as sensitive to God’s will for our group as you have been for your own needs.



2 responses

  1. Joe Wilson

    Matthew 18:20 (New International Version)
    “For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.”

    Perhaps that verse confirms the non-existence of a perfect number? Comfort is a human invention and different people have different comfort levels when it comes to religion. Seems like the common denominator in your equation is the desire for intimacy in Christian worship, a sense of fellowship and that opinions might be expressed and discussed by all in attendance, not merely a sermon to the masses where questions hinder flow and only one opinion is expressed. Critics of this style might say that there are too many indians and not enough chiefs or too many cooks for one pot. They might say that without a central message and opinion accepted as representing the whole that the church would flake off into fragments and in the end weaken the church. On the other hand, if what one is really looking for is a “walk with Christ” then intimacy with their deity is more important that the strength of an autonomous body such as the “church.” Maybe Mark feels like he isn’t getting enough time to express his opinions or that some of the opinions he is hearing are rather contrary to his. I doubt it is merely about a number, he is uncomfortable with some people or their views and perhaps that brings him down when he is looking for elevation. In all honesty, I don’t know if small worship groups work unless the participants are incredibly like minded OR one person seems to dominate the group and the others like his style more than the preacher at the larger church they broke off from.

    Take the opinion of an atheist for what it is worth. 🙂

    03/01/2010 at 12:12 pm

    • Maybe I missed conveying all of “Mark’s” concerns in my brief post. Yes, he is concerned about his personality interfering with his ability to express his thoughts. However, he is not in conflict with the opinions of the other expressed in the group. So, in this instance, it is truly a simple matter of numbers.
      You are right in assuming that all members of a small group need to be of like mind. 1 Corinthians 1:10 says “I appeal to you, dear brothers and sisters, by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, to live in harmony with each other. Let there be no divisions in the church. Rather, be of one mind, united in thought and purpose.” So, therefore, this should also extend to the rest of the Christian community, not just of the members of a small group.

      03/02/2010 at 10:28 am

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