Thoughts on Small churches.
Over the last 40 years I have been involved in both large, middle and small sized churches. Probably middle sized [100 member] churches are the ideal. However, the ones that I feel passionate about are smaller churches. Large churches are just too big. My ministry started by being involved in a church planting work in Bala, North Wales.
Here are some thoughts:-
1] The danger of being a ½ empty church rather than being a ½ full church.
This happens when a church used to be large/middle sized and now has become smaller. The tendency is to think back to what was considered or thought to be better days.
Whereas a church plant is often seen as an exciting work, where every person and every work are important. When you think back there was nothing there.
2] The failure to remember that the church is God’s Church. We can have the mindset that it is all down to us.
We are small because of us, it is our fault. Because we aren’t doing enough, not working hard enough, haven’t got enough vision etc,. Then we can get depressed by it all and lose our joy in the church, in the work and even in God.
3] Need to ask a question why is the church small?
There could be any number of reasons for this. Sin, geography, the age in which we live. [when I was first in the ministry a small church was then a church of about 100], traditions rather than doctrine. Even to such things as what does the church look like from the street, is there a good welcome, do people feel comfortable in the building; or again does anyone know that we are a church or even there?
Publicity, education, social concern are things to consider. Do people know what a church is about, apart from hatches, matches and dispatches.
Is it small because God wants it to be small?
Pros and Cons of a small church compared to a large one.
Every single person in a small church is important.
Much closer and deeper fellowship.
You can get things done quickly [ you don’t always need a committee or church meeting to plan something].
There shouldn’t be to much in the way of cliches.
The services can be much more informal and personal.
Little in the way of church politics.
Problems are often fewer and smaller and can be dealt with quite quickly.
Fewer people to do things, often it is the same people doing most of the things in the church.
Less money to pay for pastors, outreach, equipment and publicity, missions and missionary support.
The gifts in the church might be limited; ie musicians and music.
The teaching, preaching and evangelistic ministry of the church might not be the best. Training in the church might be limited.
Again when certain key individuals leave the church or get sick then the church can look very frail.
It has often been said that the future of any church is only one generation, and that is for big and small churches alike [I have known some ‘big’ churches implode and cease to exist].
Crowds attract a crowd and one of the biggest problems for a small church is to attract people through its doors.
Small churches aren’t always good at cultural changes. [neither are big ones for that matter.]
Positives for all churches small, middle and large.
A] God does not change. His desire is for people to have eternal life through believing in His Son Jesus.
B] The mission of the church has not changed. To go out into all the world with the Gospel. Matthew 28:18-20.
C] The Gospel has not changed and it is still through God, the power of salvation to everyone who believes. Romans 1:16.
D] The Bible has not changed. The Word of God provides us with all that we need to know in order to serve our Lord Jesus. 2.Timothy 3:16-17.
E] The effectiveness of prayer has not changed. We can call on God our Father and He answers the prayers of His church, big or small.
A book to read: The Big Picture for Small Churches. John Benton E.P 2020.
A challenge to us: Pray that God would build His church.