Big Questions

What is a micro church?

Posted June 04, 2024

by Jordan Moseley

Photo by Terren Hurst for Unsplash

What makes a church…a church? Three people doing Bible study over coffee? Believing friends meeting over Zoom? A family doing a service project together? A Prayer luncheon? When and how does a small group of people become a church?

To explore the answer to these questions, one can turn to the leaders at Exponential.

As a hub of empowerment for Christian community leaders, Exponential provides individuals with the education for deeply fostering their communities. As a non-profit, Exponential serves many church foundations, as stated in their mission statement. They are very hands-on with equipping churches and organizations with knowledge and resources and they have even opened their means to the public with their podcast, the Leadership Network Podcast.

In October 2022, Exponential’s NEXT Directors, Rob Wegner and Brian Johnson interviewed Lucas Pulley, the executive director of the Tampa Underground, an identical mission-based organization, on their podcast, posing longtime, thought-provoking questions. Their questions concerned micro churches, their place in modern Christian practices and their origins.

At the start of the episode, Johnson opened with this powerful statement:

“Of course, the micro church is not a new form of the Church but the most ancient one. A compelling case can be made that the micro church is the original design within the pages of the New Testament.”

“The micro church is the original design.” Johnson added, ”Now is the time for us in the West to return to the micro church for biblical, cultural and missiological reasons.”

This sentiment speaks to the original foundations that created the basis of the Church — a community with a shared objective to live through Christ.

Micro churches are a unique expression of the Christian faith that deviate from traditional, larger church models, Pulley said. A micro church is a small-scale, intentionally intimate community of believers that gather together in homes or other non-traditional spaces for worship, discipleship and fellowship.

These micro churches are designed to provide a more personal and connected experience for believers, allowing them to get to know each other on a deeper level, according to Dove International. They also provide a more intimate space for spiritual growth, as members can easily ask questions, share experiences and engage in meaningful dialogue.

They typically consist of fewer than 20 members and prioritize authentic relationships, shared ministry and active participation from all members, Pulley said. Micro churches are known as a non-traditional form of religious organization, functioning as small-scale communities of believers that meet in unconventional spaces like homes, coffee shops, community centers or even outdoors.

Micro churches emphasize the importance of meaningful interactions, with members actively involved in the life of the group, rather than a passive observer, Dove International continues.

These churches offer a more intimate and close-knit environment, fostering deeper connections between members, summarizes Dove International. To be able to truly understand the duty of a micro church, we must look at the story of the church through its concept and the Word.

What Makes Micro Churches Special?

Photo by Laura Paredis for Pexels

The appeal of micro church communities lies in their emphasis on authentic relationships and active participation, according to Huffpost.

Through shared ministry and personability, micro churches create opportunities for all members to be involved and contribute to the community, according to Huffpost. They also provide a space for individuals who may feel disconnected or marginalized in larger, more traditional church settings.

Micro churches offer a unique approach to worship and community that sets them apart from traditional churches. Micro churches tend to be more flexible and adaptable to the needs and preferences of their members. This flexibility allows micro churches to create a more personalized and meaningful worship experience, according to Huffpost.

Additionally, micro churches often focus on channeling growth into starting new house churches and creating specific model churches rather than growing larger in size. Overall, micro churches provide a sense of belonging in a way that larger, traditional churches may not be able to.

Micro churches also offer a new atmosphere to worship in. Many micro churches tend to meet in member’s homes, coffee shops, rec centers, parks and any other place open to gathering. This accommodates the diverse lifestyles and preferences of modern believers, creating a more accessible and inclusive spiritual community, Huffpost informs.

While micro churches offer numerous benefits, they also present unique challenges. One potential challenge is the limited resources available to a small group. Larger churches typically have more resources, both in terms of finances and human resources, to support various programs and initiatives. In contrast, micro churches may face limitations in budget, volunteer availability and expertise in specialized areas such as teaching or outreach.

Additionally, the close-knit nature of micro churches, while a strength, can lead to interpersonal challenges. Conflicts or tensions within a small group can have a significant impact on the overall dynamic of the community. To address these challenges, micro churches can explore creative solutions, such as partnering with other local churches for resources and support.

This collaborative approach can provide access to additional teaching materials, mentoring opportunities and shared events, enriching the experiences of members. Moreover, fostering open communication and conflict resolution skills within the community can contribute to maintaining healthy relationships and addressing interpersonal issues constructively. This dynamic can help invite more members to want to contribute to the greater good of the mission. “All of these roles are verbs, not titles,” emphasized by Mike Bishop.

Despite these challenges, micro churches offer a valuable alternative to traditional churches by providing a space for intimate relationships and personalized worship experiences.

While micro churches may have their challenges, they offer a unique expression of the Christian faith that can foster deep connections and provide a sense of community for individuals seeking a more authentic worship experience, summarized by the writing of Marc von der Ruhr and Joseph P. Daniels.

What Is Their Role and Offering in Modern Faith Practices?

Photo by Growthgal for Pexels

With many Christians becoming accustomed to the order of the modern church, there may be some natural apprehension to the idea of returning to the idea of original style.

Micro churches are able to fill in the cracks that a traditional church may miss, offering a fresher perspective and deeper connection to God. One defining characteristic of micro churches is the emphasis on shared spirituality and equal leadership from all members.

Many traditional churches operate with distinct hierarchical structures, while more intimate church settings often operate with a more decentralized and inclusive approach to decision-making. This dynamic creates a sense of responsibility among members, fostering a deeper sense of commitment to the community.

Micro churches prioritize the nurturing of spirituality, palpable connection, and cultivating its members. The smaller group size allows for more personalized interactions, creating an environment where individuals can explore and deepen their faith in a supportive context.

The emphasis on authentic relationships also means that members can share their joys and struggles more intimately, fostering a sense of genuine care within the community. In today's fast-paced world, micro churches offer a response to contemporary spiritual needs. The close-knit environment provides a refuge for individuals seeking a more personal and nurturing faith experience.

Micro churches are not bound by tradition or conventional structures, allowing for innovative approaches to worship, discipleship and outreach. This flexibility enables them to respond creatively to the unique needs and challenges of their members and surrounding communities, making them a dynamic expression of the Christian faith.

The role of micro churches is to reach the least, last, lost and little ones. Its purpose is to not only further deepen a relationship with God for found Christians, but also to serve the underrepresented and lost.

Micro churches don’t need pastoral rank and big funding to thrive; they naturally have a connection to the people, because they are the people. This concept invites the idea that a church is any time or place where brethren join together in worship, whether it be serving others or praising the Lord.

From Central Pennsylvania, Jordan grew up with Christ and has her heart set on His mission. Jordan is currently pursuing a bachelor's degree in Film & Media Arts at Messiah University. She aspires to truthful and compassionate storytelling through her work.