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!