Your Church Must Be Shrink-to-Fit

Is your church shrink-to-fit? It needs to be.

We meet in a restored courtroom. On Friday, the new Family Court Judge had his investiture ceremony, and the room was left set up for us Sunday morning.


Source: Charlotte Observer

Now, we’ve been joking for 15 months about how I should really preach from the judge’s bench, and maybe have the person reading the Scripture passage mount the witness stand to do so. Usually we set up the room in a much less judicial configuration. But it was all set up. Maybe this was the day do it. Just for fun. And for simplicity.

We pushed the counsel’s tables together as usual (they serve as our breakfast and supper and communion tables) waited for everyone to show up.

They did. All 14 adults and 10 kids.

Now, we had several more people than that at our first preliminary ‘vision gathering’ nearly two years ago. What was happening? Were we being judged? Was the verdict being handed down?


Photo by Sara McAllister

No big deal. We were all eating bagels and drinking coffee around the table, and we just stayed put. When it was someone’s turn to read, pray, preach, sing, or fiddle, they just got up and did their thing. Felt like family.

Any one of our 5 community groups could have been larger on any given day. So instead of making everyone sit, proper and with hands folded, in the ‘pews’ while the leaders did our “up front” thing from the bench, we just treated it like a community group having worship.

If you’re bent out of shape about the numbers at a particular event, and perhaps especially at a given worship service, then you’re doing it wrong. And if the numbers are low at a particular event, especially at a given worship service, and you don’t shrink-to-fit, then you’re doing it wrong.

Your church is a family. Pull enough seats up to the table to welcome whomever comes. If it’s a small gathering, you shrink the room and huddle in close together. If a whole bunch of folks show up, you extend the table and pull the extra chairs out of the closet.

And most of all, you don’t fret. Insist on being an extended family, and the family extension will take care of itself.

Make sure your church plant is shrink-to-fit.

Oh, and interestingly, the evening pot luck and worship service welcomed almost four times as many aunts, uncles, and cousins.

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