I spoke with a colleague via Facebook chat Saturday night about the level of “quality” a particular church seemed to possess, though they were small.
Indeed, churches can be an inch wide and a mile deep.
We then spoke of other types of churches that fit the “mile wide and an inch deep” phenomenon. However, I will admit I haven’t seen many of those.
Far more common than either of the aforementioned churches are those a mile wide and a mile deep, or an inch wide and an inch deep. I know some love to caricature megachurches as shallow because it makes them feel better about themselves. There are also large church pastors who look down at smaller churches–but not many, in my experience.
The truth beyond the caricatures is that many churches in America are an inch wide and an inch deep. Those are related–width and depth. Not always, but usually. Depth isn’t just how many mid-week bible studies a church has or how long they’ve been around. Those are largely irrelevant. Depth is more about solid church health than anything else. Health is what births ministry and allows it to flourish–wide and deep.
Small churches that are deep will eventually grow. Large churches that are shallow will eventually decline. Width and depth are usually (but not always) related. As you reflect on the health of your church, pay less attention to the size of it, and more attention to the health of it. Keep in mind that health is more than the absence of fighting. Health involves clear focus, spiritual vitality and depth, real and truth-based unity, and courageous leadership.
You can do that as an inch-wide church.
You just won’t be an inch wide for long.