Review: The Strategically Small Church


The Strategically Small Church
Brandon J. O’Brien
Bethany House
2010
168 pages

At last, someone who understands that the small church isn’t necessarily dead or dying; that, at the risk of being branded for using and abusing a cliché, “good things DO sometimes come in small packages.”

Brandon O’Brien presents a solid case for that self-aware, self-confident small church that recognizes the advantages of its size and is not intimidated by the mega-church mystique. This book is balm to the soul of the majority of pastors who have come away from conferences led by their mega-church brothers, feeling like failures even when souls are coming to Christ and lives are being changed as a result of their ministries. As O’Brien says: “Mega-churches (regular attendance over 2000) make up less than one half of one percent of churches in America…we have allowed the ministry experience of 6 percent of pastors to become the standard by which the remaining 94 percent of us judge ourselves” (pg. 25).

O’Brien deals specifically, and articulately, with six areas of church in which the strategically small church (with emphasis on “strategically”) has valid advantages over its mega-sister: mission, authenticity, ability to change rapidly, equipping, focusing on the family, and training.

The author emphasizes that there is no virtue in being small if you are not being strategic and that strategic doesn’t means buying into the latest fads in church growth or trying to imitate the “big guys.” It means recognizing who you are as a church and using that to best advantage for the sake of the Kingdom.

Jim Belcher, author of Deep Church, says this in his forward to O’Brien’s book: “What if God’s plan for most churches is to be small? What if the best model for the church is to stay under five hundred people, and even closer to the tipping point of one hundred and fifty?” (pg. 10). For the majority of us who are in those kinds of churches, The Strategically Small Church is insightful, refreshing and motivating, a useful tool in helping us to become all that we need to be.

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Bethany House provided me with a complimentary copy of this book for review purposes.

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