The Wal-Mart phenomenon has had a tremendous impact on our culture. In the beginning, the Wal-Mart business model was to avoid competing with other large stores by placing their stores in under-served communities. Instead of going into busy, high-population areas, Wal-Mart built its stores in small towns and suburbs where the main competition came from small businesses and Mom & Pop stores. The theory was that the smaller stores located in these areas would not be able to compete with a large store’s ability to offer a huge variety of products and services at such low prices. The result? Well, if you look at the small towns across the country where Wal-Mart exists, most of those small stores have closed up shop because they were unable to compete.
In our culture, the Wal-Mart name has become synonymous with success. We desire efficiency in everything that we do. Give us a large variety of options from which to choose, give us great service, and give it all to us at one convenient location at the lowest price possible. We even place these same demands on the church. We often choose our church based on how many ministries are available for us, how many activities we can take advantage of, the quality of the “product” being offered (bigger is usually better, right?), and how much it is going to cost us (think time and effort and emotion here).
I am not against large churches that offer a large variety of programs and that strive to offer the best product possible. I think that churches should do the best that they can with what they have. My question is, should churches have as their primary goal to become large churches that have bigger and better programs to offer so they can get more people and offer bigger and better programs? Should we, as churches, adopt the Wal-Mart model of success? If so, should we go into areas that are lacking large churches and plant a large church that can out-compete the smaller churches in the area and absorb their people? It would be more efficient, right?
We have already discussed in previous posts that small churches are uniquely positioned to minister in ways that large churches cannot. Small churches seem to have their particular strengths and offer vital ministry needs to their people. If this is true, why does it seem that every small church desires to abandon its smallness and become a large church? Do we really believe that the small church has a unique place in God’s plan or have we defined the mission of the church as “growing in size and in number”? I wonder if some small churches are missing out on their unique calling because they are so consumed with a desire to get “big.”
What are your thoughts?