There are a lot of opinions about the “right” size for a church. I was speaking with someone a few weeks ago about our church when she told me that any church more than 100 people “isn’t a community.” ”After 100 people, you can’t know everyone,” she explained, “so how can you be a community at all?”
While I understand her reasoning, I don’t agree. On the one hand, she’s right – it is hard to know everyone when you have more than 100 people – but I don’t think that knowing everyone is the goal of a community. I know the names of a lot of the people in my neighborhood, but I would not say we have a community. A community to me is about being part of something bigger than yourself. About choosing to engage with others, to give and to receive. A community is a living organism, and it lives beyond people knowing each other. A strong community breathes its own life.
How many is an an “ideal” church size? Good question. My home church was 400 people when I was born – by the time I graduated from high school, we were at 900. There are a lot of systems theories and research out there indicating that any church over 100 people will likely continue to grow larger, with the continued efforts of the staff and members. Under 100, because “everyone DOES know your name,” a church is more likely to become an insular community and stagnate in growth. This is not a hard-and-fast rule, of course, but a likely outcome based on research.
What does this mean for the Unitarian Church of Norton? Stay tuned!