Essential Incredients: Members, Money, Leaders

Grace and Main: The exception that proves the rule? Or just plain exceptional?

Mark Chaves, professor of sociology, religion and divinity at Duke University’s Duke Divinity School, says that churches need three things to survive—members, money and leaders.

Jesus said, ‘Where two or three are gathered in my name, there I am in their midst’ (Matt. 18:20).

So, the question of how small is too small depends on the relationship of members, money and leaders.

A church without leaders is not a church, and a congregation with no members can’t be led. But small churches like Grace and Main in Danville, Va., have figured out how to give 100 percent of all the money they receive to help the homeless in their community.

How do they do it?

They meet in homes, have no paid staff and don’t plan to incur any additional expenses or debt. A church may be very small numerically but still be a viable congregation if their balance of members, money and leaders works for them.

Chuck Warnock, an expert on small churches, is lead pastor of Chatham Baptist Church in Chatham, Va.

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