When I was born, my home congregation had just over 400 members. Today, they have nearly 900. There are three other Unitarian Universalist churches less than twenty miles away from my home congregation who also have several hundred members each.
We have the capacity to grow big.
As of today, Norton Unitarian Church has forty-four people who are interested in being part of our congregation in one way or another. Fall is an exciting time for the church, as we kick off new Small Groups, our monthly TED Talks Dinners, Family Night and our Mindfulness Workshops. People are excited and energized about our community, and some are asking me: “When do we start Sunday worship? Isn’t this enough people? What is that Magic Number?”
I’m very lucky in that I have a new church start coach who is able to advise me on such matters. I was able to be clear with my coach that I want this church to grow big. Not 50 people big, but 200, 300, 500 people big. Big to be sustainable. Big to grow the faith. Big to grow peoples’ faith, and big to create a vibrant, living community.
That Magic Number? We talked about it. We also talked about the dangers of beginning services too early (“premature launch”) and what a solid, lively foundation for this church will look like. Every church has a different Magic Number, but at Norton Unitarian Church, ours is eighty to one hundred people.
I can hear the scoffs now. ”Crazy!” Eighty to one hundred people to START? Yes my friends, to START! There are many reasons for this particular Magic Number in this context, but the most primary one is this: when you start with a smaller community, it’s easier for that community to stay small. When you start with a bigger community, it’s easier for that community to grow big!