Most of us are biased toward more.  More fun, more food, more money, just more, more and some more.  In fact we we even super-size our fast food orders.  My last three churches, where I served as pastor were larger than the churches during my first pastorates.  So the last half of my pastoral tenure was in larger churches.  Because of my reality, I began to believe that large churches were where things were happening.  I was partly right.  The part I was leaving out?  Things are happening in smaller churches as well.

Let me be clear, there are churches both large and small that are unhealthy.  Church health is not predicated by the congregations size alone.  Some of our most healthy churches where I serve are smaller churches.  Again, I am not advocating that one size is better than the other.  I am advocating that we not write the small church off, especially when we are only considering attendance numbers.  I know people from big families love big families, our family consists of my wife, our adult son, and myself.  Yet, we believe we are a family as our friends from larger families believe they are a family.  The past two Sundays I have had a front row seat at two smaller churches. Being in those service reminded me of the value that one finds in a smaller church

  • You are a part of all that happens!  There is no place to hide.  When you are not there you are missed!
  • You are not a number.  The pastor and everyone else knows your name.
  • You are needed.  Because of the size of the church, there are places of service, that might not be available in other places, the usual restrictions are set aside.  Teens are asked to teach Sunday School, work in the nursery, usher and receive the offering.  It is not uncommon in smaller churches to see teens and or children ushering and passing the offering plates. Teens and children sometimes play the offertory or sing a special song.  It is rare to see this in larger congregations.
  • Small churches are leadership laboratories  Because of the early involvement of the children and youth, the invested involvement seems to be the anvil upon which God works His will in the lives of future leaders.

Rarely do I come across a church that wants to stay small.  Most want to grow and reach people.  They do want to make a difference for the Lord.  I am not advocating that all churches be or stay small.  I know small churches that have taken being a missional church as seriously as a larger would.  Most of our small churches feel deeply that we must reach and disciple our communities for Christ.  The last two Sundays I have seen up close what I am describing here:  children and youth involved in the service, loving care for members of the congregation, and all of this while constantly speaking to the missional impact that needs to happen in the community.  The extended prayer time today was very moving, people were prayed for specifically.  I understand that not everyone is comfortable with this format.  That is why there are churches of varying sizes and flavors.

Some of our outstanding leaders have come from smaller congregations.  It could well be that the training they received by doing rather observing helped them along their leadership journey.  I have benefited and been blessed by being in smaller churches as well as larger churches.  The Willow Grove Church where I was today, are doing several missional projects right in the community and it is exciting.   I just wanted to take a moment and celebrate the great things God is doing in some of our smaller Churches.  You are making a difference!

8 Thoughts to “A Word or two about small Churches”

  1. Steve Queen

    Thank you for the wonderful reminder of what God is doing through the small church. The small church has the ability to make a difference and is in fact making an impact for all eternity! Thank you pastor, board members, and laity for serving God faithfully!

    1. Thanks Steve I appreciate your heartfelt comments. God bless you today my friend

  2. Doug Kelley

    So often we are inundated with the value of mega churches, and indeed they have a lot to offer. They are ministering in creative ways to people who have a need to be in that type of environment. It is encouraging; however, to see the ministry of small churches being affirmed.

    One of the many things that I have come to a deeper understanding of throughout ministry is the culture of the church. This collection of beliefs, practices, and even personalities of the people, make each congregation unique. People are attracted to that culture because it meets their spiritual and personal needs. The size of the church also plays a role in that culture, and different people find a specific size of church attractive. We cannot have a cookie cutter mentality when it come to ministry. Size, style of worship, programs, and how casual or formal we dress all play a role in the culture. Yes, that means that the culture is constantly being tweaked. Everyone who joins or leaves our church brings or takes with them an influence they have upon the culture.

    While the small church does not minister to as many people, they are meeting needs in the lives of many people who would never be comfortable in the culture of a larger congregation. Reality is we are all on the same team. Seems like Paul said something about the body of Christ: we cannot all be the same part, and all parts are needed. There is great value in all different sizes of churches. God works through all of them when we let him.

    I enjoy reading the thoughts you share through various forms of social media and your blog. Keep them coming.

    1. Doug You have some interesting and valuable insights. Thanks for sharing. God bless you my friend.

  3. Mike Hefner

    There is certainly more than enough judgement to go around, most always from a well entrenched position. While seeking to be the body of Christ; 28% of am att. contributed 115 hours of labor at our fall church work day. 22% served at the annual back to school bash. 42% are praying today, 8/31/15, for a 24 hour call prayer. This was just the past 3 days. There are people that call this local church theirs that have never entered the building because they have been impacted by someone who has. My metric for our local body, the standard, has God found in me a willing servant…today.

    1. Thanks Mike. You make an excellent point. God bless you my friend

  4. Frank Sams

    Dr. Blake,
    Thank you for not forgetting about us small churces. It means a lot to know we are not out here by ourselves.

    1. Thanks Frank. You are appreciated. Blessings

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