Thesis 1: A gathering of believers should be no larger than nine to sixteen people.
The word "church" means the Bride of Christ; more specifically, all believers. It is not buildings, places, or figureheads. But, a living, breathing group of people with real connection and interaction. To say, "I'm going to church." is the same as saying, "I'm going to Mexican" You can go to Mexico where you will most likely find Mexicans. But, just because you find someone that looks Mexican in Mexico does not make them Mexican. Nor does simply going to Mexico make you Mexican. It is a matter of heritage.
To be the Church is the same. It means you are a part of a race of people with lineage and a common ancestor, the Father. Some are the original vine, Jews. Some are grafted in, Gentiles. But inside this ethnicity, there are families. For a family to operate in unity and peace everyone must have a deep understanding of one another and an understanding of their role inside that family and how and when to perform it.
I have been researching the science behind the size a group can be and still operate properly and efficiently. This is called network theory. Network theory requires two conditions:
First, what is the group intimacy required.
Second, what is the individual intimacy required.
Based on these two conditions you can determine an acceptable size of a group or network that can function inside of the parameters and requirements it was designed for.
What group intimacy is required?
How much interaction should I have with individual members of my spiritual family? Is it acceptable to not know and understand anyone in your immediate physical family? Of course not! How ridiculous would it be if someone did not know more than just the name and face of their own brother or sister? In fact, if that was the case I do not think I would believe that those two people were even related. So, if you are a family of the church you must be familiar on a personal level with every person.
What personal intimacy is required?
Who can you trust? Who's testimony is reliable? It is those very closest to you, your best friends. For the sake of staying on subject, I will just assume that everyone agrees that as a lover of Jesus, your best friend is going to be someone who shares a relationship with the owner of your soul. After all, oil and water will never mix. So how many best friends can one person have? Most people are lucky to have three in their entire life. So I would put the maximum at three to four intimate, closer than a brother people. Three or four people who know everything about you and understand you to the core. So does this mean that the family can only be four people? No. I believe we can trust the testimony of a firsthand witness. I do not have to have the deepest, most personal relationship with everyone in the family. But, I should be friends with one of their best friends so that I can have eyewitness testimony to their life and character. This is where the "network theory" comes in. This is a two node connection. We do not have an immediate connection, but do share a common bond. I can say I am familiar with everyone in my family and know and understand them. Based on these conditions, if everyone has three good friends that evenly intermingle the maximum group size is nine. If four, than sixteen. Anything beyond this size and it would be secondhand information. And we all know how the game of telephone goes.
Jesus said, "Who are my mother, my brothers, and my sisters? It is those who do the will of God." Our individual expressions of the larger ethnicity of Church are to be our families. And for our families to be healthy and strong they can not have room for deception and manipulation. I do not think it is a coincidence that Jesus and his group of disciples numbered thirteen. I believe it is a pattern for us to follow. Our families should be growing in maturity and wisdom. If they exceed sixteen than the group should brake into smaller groups and grow into larger families and on and on. In this way discipleship could actually be accomplished. And we would be safe guarded from the Enemy sneaking in among us like a wolf in sheep's clothing.
Feel free to comment or ask questions!