I am pastor of a church that averages around 170 per Sunday morning: 30 in the children’s area (workers included) and 140 in the main worship service. Technically, we are above the national average of churches (which average approximately 75), but we are just below the “medium” range, which begins at 200.
By the world’s perspective, smaller churches face a daunting task. In an age of consumerism where people come to a church to see what that church can do for them and provide for them, we are tempted to work to make the “big sell.”
Over the years, we have lost some of our long-time members to bigger churches in our area that have more resources to provide more programs for children, youth, young adults, parents, grandparents, singles, divorced—every type of demographic available.
While these churches gain traction and momentum, many of our smaller churches work hard to maintain. Some may visit the church, take a look and examine the particular ministries on the table, then may feel they need to move on to churches with … well… more!
John Benton in his wonderful little book “Why Join a small Church?” recounts a story of a friend of his who was a zealous Christian and a pastor of a small church. Though the church had only a dozen or so elderly folks in attendance, he took the call. He preached the Word of God faithfully, with much boldness, and accompanied by much prayer. Here Benton describe this:
What a situation! For many years nothing much seemed to happen, except a few minor encouragements from time to time. Though the preaching was good, the church continued fairly small. But my friend stuck to the task, praying, preaching, and doing whatever he could, with the help of a faithful few, to make the little flock a group of Christians pleasing to Christ. And after something like fifteen years of his ministry there, suddenly the church took off. Christians moving into the area began to join, people began to get saved. Things they had only dreamed of before as a church began to come true. The church numbers something like 200 to 250 people on Sundays, the building has been renovated and they have been used by God to plant another church in a nearby town.
Numbers are not everything. I believe this church had already become a great church even before attendance began to increase.
Even with slight numbers, small churches can rise to greater heights. How?
- A commitment to prayer and ministry of the Word (Acts 6:4).
- A determination to establish God-centered, Christ-exalting relationships (Acts 2:42-47);
- A desire to inject the message of the Gospel, accompanied with genuine compassion and care for those you are trying to reach (Ephesians 4:15);
- A hunger and thirst for knowing what you believe, why you believe, and why it is worth telling (Ephesians 4:11-16);
- A dogged commitment to assembling together with the saints at the appointed time (Hebrews 10:23-25);
- A shedding of a consumeristic attitude, looking for a church that meets your particular needs, rather than rolling up your sleeves and helping that church be what God would have it to be!
I’m sure there are more. But notice what resources are needed to maintain these things: the Trinity (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit), the Bible, and you.
What about it?