Pastor 1- (with a smile) Hi

Pastor 2- Hi

Pastor 1- So… where you from?

Pastor 2- First Bapticostal Community Church[1]

Pastor 1- Really?  Do you know the Ouanders?  I think they go to your church

Pastor 2- No, ‘fraid I don’t.  They might have been before my time.

Pastor 1- yeah… probably…

(insert awkward silence here as the “players” prepare for the only question they really want to ask)

Pastor 2- So… how big is FBCC these days?


…and there you have it.  Of course, the real question is this:  Is your church bigger than mine?


I try so hard to avoid the question?  I try to never ask it myself – though sometimes the curiosity is so intense it’s almost painful.  I often pause for several seconds trying to fight the urge to say what is in my heart… Eventually though, I give in.  I try to be as accurate as I can, “Since January we’ve been averaging…”  Or, “in the last couple months…”

Those who have bigger churches typically respond with a condescending, “Not bad…”  a kind of, “I remember those days…”

Those with smaller churches with a, “Wow, that big?”  …a kind of “How did you ever become pastor of a church that size?”


Here’s the thing.  When I get asked the question what I really want to is something like…

What does it matter?  Isn’t the real question… the better question, “Is your church family healthy?”   and if you really want to be a true shepherd maybe you should be asking, “Is there anything we can do to serve your church?  Anything we can do to help you become even more healthy… more effective at extending God’s kingdom?”

…few pastors would have the courage to ask or answer in that way.  Myself included…

Speaking of “health” here’s a question: Do we even know what a healthy church family looks like?  I don’t mean, “Have you taken the survey?” or “Are you pews filled on Sunday?”  In my experience a church of 10 can be healthier than a church of a thousand.  A church of 50 can sometimes reflect Jesus the Christ better than a church 5 times its size.  It has nothing to do with numbers…

There is nothing exhaustive here, in fact, I’m sure there are better minds than mine that can come up with better lists.  Off the top of my head here are some healthy/unhealthy markers.


Healthy – a community where every believer knows why they gather… and are committed to fulfilling their role in that gathering.

Healthy – a community that collectively responds to the needs represented in the community (both church and beyond)

Unhealthy – a community that looks to the pastor (or pastoral team) to do the things that God has called and gifted them to do.

Healthy – a community where people are so in love with Jesus they cannot be offended (that is, they refuse to take offense regardless of what is said or done)

Unhealthy – an offensive community.  That is, one in which everything (or anything) that is said or done is cause for offense

Healthy – a community where every believer is daily  becoming more like Christ

Healthy – a community where every non-believer is moving one step closer to Christ as a result of relationships with Christ disciples in the community.

Healthy – a community where every believer knows how God has wired and gifted them and are using those gifts to accomplish the above (without the lust for title or position)



I know, I know… nobody, and therefore no church, is perfect…


That doesn’t mean we should stop trying to be like Jesus.


Next time someone asks me, “How many people go to your church?”  I’m going to try to remember to ask the “health” question instead.




[1] nowadays churches have kewler names like “the Tree” or “Seeds” or “Journey”  …but I didn’t want to offend anyone