Saddleback pastor and best-selling author Rick Warren says small congregations can play a significant role and should not be viewed as less valuable because of their size.
"There is no correlation between the size of a church and its significance," Warren said at the Purpose Driven Conference at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California, this week, according to Pastor Randy Craft of Saddleback Newport Mesa. "God is responsible for the quantity of your ministry; you are responsible for the quality."
This is the first Purpose Driven Conference to be held in the United States in 10 years, following the 2006 conference that was attened by more than 2,900 church leaders.
In a statement leading up to the 2016 conference, Warren said the Purpose Driven paradigm is like "the operating system for the church, but we have discovered so many new apps over the last 10 years."
"We must help plateaued churches and discouraged pastors, and we must train a whole new generation to embrace God's five purposes for the church: fellowship, discipleship, worship, ministry and evangelism," Warren said.
"We need to introduce a new generation to the paradigm all together, and we need to introduce our old friends to what we've learned in the last 10 years."
Warren's support for small congregations stand in contrast to the controversial remarks made by North Point Community Church Senior Pastor Andy Stanley earlier this year.
In a sermon preached in February, Stanley claimed that parents who preferred to raise their children in a small church were "so stinking selfish."
"When I hear adults say 'well, I don't like a big church. I like about 200, I want to be able to know everybody.' I say, 'you are so stinking selfish,'" said Stanley.
"You care nothing about the next generation. All you care about is you and your five friends. You don't care about your kids, anybody else's kids."
A few days later Stanley took to Twitter to offer an apology for his comments in a tweet that got over 300 retweets and more than 1,000 likes.
"The negative reaction to the clip from last weekend's message is entirely justified. Heck, even I was offended by what I said! I apologize," tweeted Stanley.