One of the most dynamic Church Planting Movements in the world today has taken place under the watchful eye of its overseer, Dr. Victor Choudhrie. Dr. Choudhrie is a retired septuagenarian oncologist from Madhya Pradesh, India.
In an interview with Dr. Victor Choudhrie conducted in 2003, I tried to arrive at the average size of the thousands of churches in the movement he oversaw.
What is the optimal Church Size?
He responded to me that ten adult members were the optimal size for a CPM church.
“You mean the average church size?” I asked.
“No,” he said, “the optimal church size.”
“And why is that?”
“Because of what the Bible says,” he replied.
My empty stare prompted his explanation.
“You remember when Father Abraham met the two angels on the road. They were headed to Sodom to destroy it. Abraham bargained with them saying, ‘For 50 righteous men would you destroy this city?’ When they relented, he said, ‘And for 40? For 30? For 20? For 10?’ At last the angels agreed, ‘For ten righteous men, we would not destroy this city.’”
“And so,” Dr. Choudhrie continued, “we tell our new believers, when they reach ten adult church members, ‘Now you have enough to reach this village for Christ, but what about the next village down the road? They have no believers. Surely two of you can go and visit that village and share with them the gospel.”
What Dr. Choudhrie taught me was a lesson that applies across the spectrum of Church Planting Movements. Whether they have10 members or 10,000, CPM churches are best characterized—not by their size or form—but by their passionate commitment to the Lordship of Jesus Christ and the fulfillment of his Great Commission. This is what determines the optimal size of a church.
Adapted from David Garrison’s, Church Planting Movements, How God Is Redeeming a Lost World (Midlothian: WIGTake Resources, 2004), pp. 268-269.