Mom and Pop Churches … Musings of a Practical Missiologist

Ernest Goodman is at it again. He began a series on Mom and Pop Churches and has one more to go in the series. Ernest, for me, is a practical missiologist – he has experience beyond the borders of the United States.

Recently I read a few posts from Ed Stetzer’s series on mega churches.  My friend Ed may be considered a professional missiologist. He has planted churches in several different contexts. His education and experience combined to land him teaching opportunities as well as lead the research team from Lifeway.

Most would likely confess an interest in the leadership qualities found in mega church pastors. Ed offers a number of interviews as well as notes the recent Outreach Magazine’s Top 100 issue. These churches hail from a variety of denominational and non-denominational contexts. I perused the issue while at David Phillips‘ last week. I wondered if anyone had ever considered an article on the Top 100 smallest churches. It is assumed small churches do not grow and so what could they offer. Often in different contexts, these small churches often have tremendous impact. Their pastors do not get book deals, interviews, platform panel positions nor keynote offers. But, when it comes ti pressing the realities of the Kingdom of God into thier particular contexts they rival the best mega churches.

Our denomination’s (SBC) infatuation with large is well noted. We like large churches because they help us to a statistically, yet vacuous, claim of unprecedented size among Protestant, Evangelical denominations. I am glad Ed is given the liberty to move outside of our denominational circles, often offering reflections on his interactions with leaders and pastors from a variety of tribes.

Some suggest mega churches may be in decline. Others step in to offer a different perspective. It is the difference of opinion that point up the value of placing Ernest and Ed’s respective series side by side. the juxtaposition is healthy.

For what it is worth, I find Ernest offering some great insights. Rather than see him as bashing mega churches, maybe we should consider the issues he raises as transcending size. When we think of church we should think of transformation, witness to the reality Jesus is Lord and the ways a community of faith offers glimpses of the realities of the coming, yet present Kingdom of God.

Take some time and put these side by side and come back offering your reflections. We may learn from each other.

About the Author
Husband to Patty. Daddy to Kimberly and Tommie. Grandpa Doc to Cohen, Max, Fox, and Marlee. Pastor to Snow Hill Baptist Church. Graduate of Oklahoma Baptist University and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Reading. Photography. Golf. Colorado. Jeeping. Friend. The views and opinions expressed here are my own and should not be construed as representing the corporate views of the church I pastor.

2 comments on “Mom and Pop Churches … Musings of a Practical Missiologist

  1. Todd,

    Or at least have Outreach and Ed do a whole issue on smaller churches transforming their community. Maybe, “the top 100 small churches impacting their community.”

  2. Todd Littleton says:


    Good idea. I suggest we go with attendance of 100 or less in worship as the criterion for a small church. This was the figure used when I did my doctoral research a little more than fifteen years ago.

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