Bigger isn’t always better

Pastor Matthew Best
4 min readMay 17

There seems to be this fascination in America with the idea that bigger is better. It goes along with speed, strength, accumulation of wealth, and more. It’s also a focus on more. As if what is present isn’t good enough.

In the secular world, businesses are constantly looking for an increase in sales from the previous quarter or year. Some people tend to think that they are better on the road because they drive faster (I’ve got news for you — there’s always someone faster than you). We think we need to constantly be getting bigger, faster, stronger, and more.

Let me be clear — more has its upside. And growth can be a good thing. All of the things I listed have the potential to be good things. But not always. Especially if the need for more or better or faster becomes the driving force. What’s the purpose of more or better or faster or any of the other stuff? Is it just to have more for the sake of having more? That’s not a good reason. Often it means that one is never satisfied. And look I get the idea. Mediocrity is not great. And I’m not arguing for that either. I’m asking the question — why are you seeking more? To what purpose and what goal is more better? Because often we forget that more means more problems to go along with it. It means more resources to manage it. It means more regulations and institutional accouterments. It means more of other stuff that we didn’t think about initially when we said we wanted more.

Bigger is not always better and more is not always great.

When it comes to the church I think there are a lot of people who think that bigger churches are clearly more successful and are experts at what it means to be church. It’s mixing our secular ideas of success with a religious experience. Some larger churches are great. They run smoothly. They have great ministry and a healthy culture. They are good stewards of their resources. Smaller churches can learn from these churches. But not all large churches are healthy. The same could be said of any size church.

Too often we Western modern Christians have come to identify the church with a building, a place. I think that’s a mistake. Again, it’s not to dismiss the building. Church buildings are wonderful tools that can be used for great purposes.

But the church is not a place or a building. It’s a body.

And this confusion causes so many problems. It’s why too many think that bigger is better and a sign of health.

Pastor Matthew Best

My name is Matthew Best. I’m an ELCA (Lutheran) pastor who attempts to translate church and churchy stuff into everyday language.