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When We Treat Small Churches Like a Problem, We Get More Problem Churches

When a Small Church sees itself as a problem to be fixed …

So what’s the alternative? How about taking a lesson from the Apostle Paul’s body analogy in 1 Corinthians 12. Let’s stop acting like the hand that tells the foot “I don’t need you.” No, that’s not what we intend when we prescribe fixes for otherwise healthy Small Churches, but that is how it comes across.

The result of that approach is that Small Churches start thinking that way about themselves, too. Soon, the foot starts saying, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body.”

Let’s stop treating Small Churches like a problem to be fixed and start treating them like the valuable members of the body that they are.

Feet don’t need to become hands, and ears don’t need to become eyes, in order to make a valuable contribution to the body. In the same way, Small Churches don’t need to become big churches. They just need to be healthy members of a healthy body.

When that happens, a lot of good things can follow. Here are just a few.

When Small Churches Are Told They’re a Blessing …

  • They start looking for ways to become better Small Churches.
  • We start creating better resources for Small Churches.
  • Small Churches can commit their limited time, money and energy more wisely.
  • They get healthier.
  • Small Church pastors feel encouraged and become better, healthier pastors.
  • There will be more healthy Small Churches for people who worship and do ministry best in a small context.
  • The growth that does happen will be more organic and less forced.
  • Churches that don’t grow numerically will still contribute to the growth of God’s kingdom.

So what do you think? What other benefits are there from treating Small Churches as valued members of the body instead of a problem to be fixed?  

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Karl is the author of four books and has been in pastoral ministry for almost 40 years. He is the teaching pastor of Cornerstone Christian Fellowship, a healthy small church in Orange County, California, where he has ministered for over 27 years with his wife, Shelley. Karl’s heart is to help pastors of small churches find the resources to lead well and to capitalize on the unique advantages that come with pastoring a small church. Karl produces resources for Helping Small Churches Thrive at KarlVaters.com, and has created S.P.A.R.K. Online (Small-Church Pastors Adapt & Recover Kit), which is updated regularly with new resources to help small churches deal with issues related to the COVID-19 crisis and aftermath.