There is a certain beauty in churches with less than 100 people.
- They possess an accessibility that is attractive.
- They possess an element of simplicity that is appealing.
- They possess a sense of potential that is alluring.
When I meet pastors of smaller churches who are on fire to reach people, I imagine the house churches we read about in Acts 2. Full of zeal, focused on the Word, embracing community, tapping into the power of the Holy Spirit, practicing generosity and seeing people saved.
This is a beautiful experience.
They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
I’m a believer in leadership and church growth. Big time.
My foundational biblical belief about the life of the church is that God intended all churches to grow.
However, God did not extend to us the ability to determine how large our churches will become. Small churches fit in God’s plan.
Good leadership certainly has a significant effect on that outcome, but ultimately:
We do our part; God does His.
Church growth requires a Kingdom partnership.
If you pastor a smaller church or volunteer your leadership, I know it’s easy to get discouraged, feel alone in the battle and even wonder if what you do matters.
Let me assure you, it does matter!
There is incredible value in smaller churches. It may seem like you are adding people relatively slowly. Hang in there. Stay in the game. We all want to grow faster, but there is no speedometer on the Great Commission. Stay focused on life change. That’s the primary measurement.
I’m certain God cares about one or two or five or 10 more people who say yes to Jesus! That might happen in 2017, or it might take a long time, but everyone matters to God!
5 points of high value from smaller churches:
1) Large churches don’t appeal to everyone.
A frequent comment sounds something like this. “I appreciate the amazing things the ‘big megachurches’ do, but I’m just more comfortable in a smaller church. They’re not so intimidating, and they’re easier to negotiate.”
(I think that’s one reason why multi-site works so well. It’s the best of both worlds. A large church in smaller venues.)
Another common comment is that people say they grew up in a smaller church and miss it. They find their way to larger churches because of good leadership, but smaller churches can offer good leadership too. Simply put, smaller churches can reach people that larger churches can’t.
2) Some towns and cities can’t support a big church.
I’ve driven through towns that don’t have a hundred people. They need a church! There’s a huge amount of rural territory, and it needs good churches. Good churches where people can become part of the body of Christ and make a difference in their community, regardless of the size.
3) Small churches can move and respond quickly.
No one local church can do everything, but smaller churches can respond to personalized needs very quickly. For example, I heard a story of a neighborhood home that burned to the ground from a fire. The family lost everything. A small church of fewer than one hundred people responded immediately providing food, a place to sleep, encouragement and raised a generous amount of money to help this family. They stayed with them through the process until they were able to get back on their feet.
4) Small churches can have a big impact from specialized ministries.
I get to hear stories of small churches in downtown areas, urban areas, and otherwise out of the way and different settings. One church meets in a hair salon, one meets in a bar and one meets in a movie theater. There are so many more examples, but the common thread is that the community knows they are there, and appreciates their presence. One might focus on food to the poor, and another might emphasize connecting with people in the arts, or perhaps young single adults.
These are not missions, they are churches, and they are doing cool ministries that reach people who will never attend a big church.
5) Small churches can offer a personalized touch.
Don’t underestimate this point. The impact of “close and personal” shepherding, discipleship and spiritual guidance is huge. I’m not suggesting that you as the pastor do it all yourself. Raise up two or three volunteer leaders to help you.
The point is that your ability to come alongside people who are far from God, new Christians and maturing believers is a powerful force for Kingdom impact.
We all want our church to grow.
But God can and does use small churches in significant ways to advance His Kingdom.
What is one more point of high value from small churches you could add?