An “average” church pastor is the president of the 2017 Southern Baptist Convention Pastors’ Conference.

Ed: You’re a small church pastor and yet you won the election to be President of the Southern Baptist Convention Pastors’ Conference. I think there was a message that Southern Baptists were sending to themselves. Sometimes people forget what a typical church looks like in the United States. Why are small churches—which are actually typical churches—overlooked so often?

Dave: We have been using the term “average church.” The Caskey Center uses “smaller membership,” but it is the same thing.

In our convention, 96% of churches have 400 or fewer people on Sunday morning and there are about 150 to 180 mega churches that run over 2,000 at their services. That means that the heart and soul of Southern Baptist work is to be found in churches that have fewer than 500 at Sunday morning worship.

But everything in our life as a denomination seems to be designed around the mega churches. They run things. They are the speakers at conferences, which are often geared toward teaching us how to turn our churches into mega churches like theirs. We love them and appreciate them, but many of our churches are never going to be megas, and in our context we don’t want to be. We tend to ignore the twin realities that many churches are not mega churches and never will be and act as if the SBC is a megachurch factory tooled to produce one product.

We wanted to demonstrate several things. More than anything, we wanted to bless people with quality preaching of God’s word. We also wanted to show that our churches had something valuable to offer our denomination.

I have grown up and spent my life ministering in small to medium-sized Southern Baptist churches. The biggest church I served was around …

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