Big church / Small church

All Saints (which should properly be called a small percentage of saints) has 500 on the electoral role, 25 on the PCC and an Apostolic 12 on the Leadership team, although 2 are women. It has an average of 45 meetings a week if all the house groups, administration meetings, coffee mornings and communions are included.\r\n\r\nAround 50 people (10% of the electoral role) which includes 3 full time non-clergy staff are active, and spend much of their spare time  each week preparing for the 45 meetings.\r\n\r\nWhich leaves the Vicar and his Curate to go to schools, meet people on the street, and at funerals, and weddings, and baptisms, and to visit the elderly and infirm at home.\r\n\r\n350 people each week are passive – they turn up to the meetings of all sorts laid on for them.\r\n\r\nSt Valentis (named after a vigorous 1st century saint) has 45 on the electoral role, many of whom are infirm or old, so now only 25 regulars turn up to one Sunday service.\r\n\r\nThey have no house groups, but on average 5 of the regulars (20%) dedicate time each week to visiting the local old people’s home and the elderly and infirm members of the congregation who can’t travel.\r\n\r\nOne couple spend time each week researching local charities and world mission organisations to present to the congregation to raise financial support. One person plays the piano. One person leads worship. Two people, a man and a woman, preach regularly, and two women look after the four children on Sunday mornings. Being short-handed most people are on either the PCC or one of the other committees.\r\n\r\nIn all, about 85% of the congregation in St Valentis are actively involved in church life, guided by the vicar.\r\n\r\nSo I want to know, is a big church just a good small church with lots of extra hangers-on?\r\n\r\nAnd, which is the better church, All Saints or St Valentis?\r\n\r\nIt depends on which criteria are used, of course. Unfortunately ‘sustainability’ may become the overriding measure of success.\r\n\r\nUnless something cataclysmic happens, All Saints will continue as it is for the forseeable future, let’s say a conservative 20 to 30 years. Big church.\r\n\r\nUnless something miraculous happens, St Valentins will close down in the foreseeable future, let’s say 5 years. Small church.\r\n\r\nWhich is a shame.

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