House Of Worship

Small Churches Pack A Big Punch

When it comes to congregation size, numbers can be deceiving.

“Big is not necessarily better.” Those were the words a pastor of a small church in Tennessee said to me when comparing his church to a nearby mega-church that has thousands of congregants. This man of the cloth stated that mega-churches certainly do serve many people in his community. He also noted that large churches and mega-churches have resources that enable them to provide a host of activities that their numerous congregants find appealing. This pastor expressed that mega-churches are highly visible because their financial resources, and their outreach, garner a lot of attention from the community and the media. By contrast, he explained, small and mid-sized churches typically receive little attention outside of the small community of people they serve.

I understood what that good man was telling me. I agree with him that, often, we give a lot of attention to large-scale churches and their big-money purchases, even as we often overlook small and mid-sized churches’ upgrades and renovations. So, this article is to put forward the idea that churches of all sizes are valuable to their communities, and they’re also valuable to our industry.

Research I found on this topic suggests that there are significantly more small and mid-sized churches in the US than mega-churches. More specifically, the research I found related to church sizes and their influence indicated that approximately 50 percent of the churches in the US have fewer than 100 people who attend worship each week. In addition, the research showed that approximately 40 percent of the churches in the US have between 100 and 350 people who attend worship each week. Furthermore, it revealed that approximately 10 percent of churches in the US have more than 350 people who attend worship each week. Finally, the research suggested that, of the 10 percent of churches with more than 350 congregants, only one percent of that number represents mega-churches that have more than 2,000 people who attend weekly services.

The research revealed many other points, all of which are important to understand, even if not for this particular article. However, I believe the key factor on which we, as systems designers, salespeople and integrators, should focus is the power of numbers. No matter how you look at this topic, the overarching fact is the same: There are significantly more smaller and mid-sized churches than large churches and mega-churches.

I am sure we all understand that the large and mega-churches have significant resources to purchase equipment. However, my experience suggests that small and mid-sized churches are also interested in purchasing new equipment; in fact, they are often pulling together significant resources to purchase new sound gear, lighting, projection systems and production equipment. Looking at the past few years, the overwhelming majority of our jobs have come from small to mid-sized churches. Some jobs were $1,000 or so, whereas others were 50 to 100 times that amount.

One church, in particular, comes to mind. Although it seats 300 people, it’s one of the most beautiful churches I have ever seen. The cost to construct the church was a little more than $5 million. The technology budget for this low-key congregation proved more than adequate to address their communication needs. We installed what I would call the best sound-reinforcement gear on earth, 12,000-lumen video projectors, HD recording gear, HD video cameras and top-end microphones, along with in-ear monitors and stage monitors. It was all top-of-the-line gear, and no expense was spared to purchase the best possible equipment.

If we had evaluated this project based on the church’s congregation size, we would have missed a job that was very much worth our time and effort. It’s a reminder that, although the budgets of small and mid-sized churches can vary, the pastor from Tennessee was right—“big is not necessarily better” when it comes to judging church projects by the number of weekly worshippers.

I believe that small and mid-sized churches have been underserved, and they desire our help. I believe that this underserved market segment offers our industry many opportunities to serve wonderful people who, in turn, can add to our bottom line.

That is what I believe. What do you believe?

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