Monday, March 14, 2011

Traditional Small Church Marginalization

There has been some discussion recently about the marginalization of the traditional small church. Read the blogs of Ed Stetzer, Bart Barber, Peter Lumpkin, and Nathan Finn for their take on this topic. Here's my take.

What is a traditional small church? In my definition, a traditional small church is a church which has less than 200 in Sunday morning worship attendance according to the ACP report and practices traditional ways of doing church: hymns, choir, piano, organ, suit and tie or at least business casual for men, dresses for women, "Sunday best" for children, preacher preaching at a pulpit, Sunday School, and traditional programs such as RA's, GA's, Baptist Men, and WMU.

Traditional small churches comprise the vast majority of the SBC (83% per latest ACP). However, these small churches, which are the majority of the churches in the SBC, are represented on SBC boards as a clear minority. The average SBC board representation of traditional small churches is 22%. The average SBC board representation of churches with over 1,000 Sunday morning worship attendance averages 30%. However, these larger churches only comprise 1.4% of all SBC churches.

Have traditional small churches been marginalized in SBC life? The facts clearly say "Yes." The majority of the SBC churches have the minority voice in every governing agency of the SBC. If this isn't marginalization of traditional small churches, then I don't know what is.

I have asked each of the past four SBC presidents to take steps to alleviate the inequitable representation of the majority of SBC churches and each president has declined to take any definitive action. Last year, I proposed a motion to the Executive Board to resolve this inequity, but they have refused to address it.

To me, for anyone to even hint that traditional small churches are not being marginalized in SBC life is the sign of someone who is not paying attention or who is not aware of the realities of SBC life.

2 comments:

Terry Reed said...

It has been my experience that all small churches, traditional or otherwise, are overlooked for positions such as you describe. Some groups are better at including these congregations than others. The Baptist Missionary Association of America has a good representation, but in all honesty they have few mega churches to choose from. Perhaps it is time for an association of small churches.
Terry Reed
Small Church Tools

Randy Furco said...

The small church will soon be the one looked to for advice and guidance while the "television mega-church" takes a back seat.

I just posted several things on my wall about this(FB WALL).
The LORD WANTS TO SEE his church the way it was meant to be. No longer will the celebrity mentality do.

Here they are, coincidence or confirmation?

The local church is suppose to be a living,breathing, forward advancing, full representation of The Body of Christ on earth. So many times her leaders are waiting for the sheep to get it right, when in reality it is us leaders that need to get it right and the sheep will naturally fall in line under the protection and cover of their shepherds and overseers.... Randy Furco

From the smallest church in the smallest village, to the largest church in the biggest city...I see a change coming to America, that is all good. I see an old school house church teaching a 30,000 member congregation how to structure the local church to operate in THE GLORY AND THE EXCELLENCE OF ORDER, that we are suppose to operate in. Randy Furco


Christian believer needs a church, just as a candle needs a candlestick, a tree needs soil, and an electric light bulb needs a socket. Without a candlestick, a candle cannot stand; without soil, a tree cannot grow; without a socket, an electric bulb cannot shine. Neither can you. Without fellowship, a Christian can neither stand, nor grow, nor shine. REINHARD BONNKE