Home Christian News Pastors of Very Small Churches Express Joy, Commitment, Challenges

Pastors of Very Small Churches Express Joy, Commitment, Challenges

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Pastor Charlie Vaughn and his wife Kathie converted the basement office of Austin Baptist Church into an apartment and lived there the first eight years he pastored the church. (Submitted photo)

AUSTIN, Nev. (BP) — Pastor Charlie Vaughn and his wife Kathie were trying to fix a church member’s washing machine midday Aug. 4. He’s not a washer repairman, but since 2008 has pastored Austin Baptist Church of about 12 worshipers in Austin, Nev.

Yomba Baptist Church, his second pastorate about 40 miles south on a Shoshone Indian reservation, has three worshipers.

“There are many pastors here in this state who serve in a church, some smaller than Austin, but do so faithfully as that is where God has placed them to do His work,” Vaughn said. “Praise the Lord for that.”

Cornell Denson Sr., pastor of Walk By Faith Missionary Baptist Church in Gainesville, Fla., drove a group of his 17 members in the church van to Orlando to the 2022 Black Multicultural State Church Fellowship of the Florida Baptist Convention, convening through Aug. 6 at Rosen Shingle Creek.

As Denson is focused on the Great Commission, the church bought a van to help neighborhood families attend church.

“And it’s been working,” he said. “We’ve been having two extra (in attendance), three extra, something like that.”

Joshua Goepfrich in Warsaw, Ind., pastor of the 18-member Hilltop Community Church and president of the State Convention of Baptists in Indiana, fields a question often.

“People ask you questions like how large is your church, and sometimes as men we feel that is an attack on us,” Goepfrich told Baptist Press. “And the simple answer to that question is the church that I belong to, has millions of members. Growth is not about the local church. It’s about the walk with God.

“As we walk, we invite people onto the journey. My job is not to save people. Your job is to present the Gospel,” Goepfrich tells pastors. “God has not called you to build His church; He’s called you to be faithful to the ministry. You stay faithful. Let Him deal with the results. And that’s hard to live in.”

Vaughn, Denson and Goepfrich are among the majority of Southern Baptist pastors, the approximately 51 percent that report Sunday attendance of less than 50, according to statistics compiled by the Bivocational and Small Church Leadership Network. A quarter of Southern Baptist churches serve less than 24 on Sundays.