Recently Karl Vater, one of the most respected names in small church ministry, was asked to speak at a conference hosted by Rick Warren's mega church: Saddleback.  He did a great job and was able to touch a number of people with the need for small churches to be healthy before they grow (or even if they do not grow).

I think this is great!  In fact, when I saw that Karl was on the program I just about did cartwheels across the living room!  It has been my experience that most people are only interested in how can my small church get bigger, not how can my small church get better?

I am trained in the Church Growth school of philosophy.  In fact, I wrote my Th.D. dissertation on a Church Growth subject.  I am all for reaching more and more people for Jesus.  But I came to realize a long time ago that outreach and numerical growth do not always go hand in hand.  I watched as one disheartened pastor after another gave up because their small church did not become a big church. 

This gave me the idea for my first attempt at ministering to small church leaders.  There was no internet at the time, no blogs etc.  You basically communicated by word of mouth, set up a table a gatherings of pastors, etc. to get the word out.  People would come by my table, take the literature I had printed up, and talk about how needed this ministry was, and they were glad someone was finally doing it.

Thing was, none of them ever called on me to help, nor did any of their friends.  You see, they were not interested in getting better...they wanted to get bigger.  To have a speaker on small churches come would be admitting they had no vision, no faith, no belief that they were "just around the corner" from that growth explosion that would make them one of the "big boys."

And sadly, I have not seen much of a change in all these years.  After starting back again a few years ago with Small Church Tools, the results are better, but not a lot.  There are several very good ministries headed up by such men as Karl, Dave Jacobs and others.  And I am glad to say that several books on the subject have done very well.  Those are encouraging signs.

But for every blog, book, ministry, etc. that is out there to help small churches be healthy, there are a dozen more for how to grow your small church into a big church,  I still watch people try one new program after another hoping to find the "magic" formula to catapult them over the top.

Which brings me back to the question that is the title of this post: does anyone want to be a small healthy church?  Are we so consumed with size that we cannot see the value of what we have?  In the business world, should every small store owner in America strive to be the next Walmart?  Is there something wrong with them if they don't;;;do they lack vision, faith, courage, or belief?

If a church is small because they will not reach out, that is unhealthy.  But if a church is healthy but small, should they hang their heads in shame?