For nearly four centuries, the small congregation has been the dominant institutional expression of Protestant Christanity. Meanwhile the societal context for the small Protestant church has changed from supportive to neutral to, in many places, a hostile environment. The small church thrived in a society once dominated by small institutions that were friendly and supportive. But today, small churches cope in a world of large institutions that do not make any effort to be supportive of organized religion. For example, consider the retail chain stores that make no effort to stay closed before noon on Sunday mornings.
Lyle Schaller demonstrated that the small membership church has a bright and promising future if the leaders will adapt to new roles in the culture. He suggests many alternative scenarios that can lead to better use of resources and more focused energies in ministry.