i’m pretty sure that i have guest preached at this church before. i have definitely driven 45 minutes before to preach at a church that had 8 people at it and has had around 8 people for years. while i am most assuredly a small church guy that doesn’t mean that i believe churches should stay small by never adding anyone. in fact, i believe the exact opposite.
tapestry is small. most sunday nights there are 45-50 threads at washington elementary school. we also plan on staying small but emphasize growing. we are very intentional about staying small and growing at the same time.
we are doing this by knowing that as we grow we also plan on splitting to form new churches. it is a concept that i bring up often with the leadership team and the church. our magic number is 150ish in average attendance. tapestry stole this concept from the hutterites, an anabaptist community, and from my brief experience with a group of churches in philadelphia called the circle of hope . i am a big radical reformation guy so the hutterites are a particular draw for me. anyhow hutterite communities look to split when they hit 150ish. the insulated wear company gore-tex also practices this mindset. the idea is that people can only truly know and connect with 150ish people (no matter what facebook says) and therefore groups work best at around that number. the anthropologist robin dunbar talked about this in the principle that is commonly known as “dunbar’s number.”
so 150ish is our split number (btw, i love saying split with people who have been raised in church because it draws a very different image for them – they usually prefer the word divide but i really like saying split). that number leaves us plenty of room to grow right now. we started 3 years ago with an average of 8. we’ve slowly grown by focusing on people who weren’t connected with a local church. we will continue to grow by focusing on people who are not connected with a local church BUT the goal is not to stop when we get close to 150ish. nope. the goal is to grow while staying small (i guess you could say “growing small”). we’ll just split and form a new church that reaches a different group of people. we’ll be “sister” churches that still do many things together while also reaching people who might never connect with tapestry at washington. then the fun will really begin because we will hopefully do an even better job of “growing small” when there are two tapestries. i hope years from now there are dozens of us intentionally “growing small” churches in the area.
again the goal is to grow and stay small. not just stay small.
SIDE NOTE – the graphic comes from asbo JESUS. i love that blog.