Saturday, April 21, 2007

Small Churches -- their difficulties and their possibilities

I'm a small church pastor. Easter Sunday we had according to the "official" count 55 there. I'm sure a pastor's count would reveal a few more, but needless to say, we're not big. Now we've added a few new members lately -- 5 so far this year. But I did read in the letters to the editor in the local paper that the 4Square Church had 1300 for Easter breakfast. Ah, if I only had a couple of their people! But then again we're a different kind of church. Anyway, that's not my point --

I ran across a most interesting piece by David Fitch at Reclaiming the Mission.Com. He writes about the difficulties of growing a small missional church -- noting that it's more difficult to take a church from 0 to 150 than it is from 600 to 5,000. He suggests that it's also more difficult to preach to 100 people you know than 8000, of whom you don't know 99%. People go to big churches because that's where the action is -- programs galore, etc. Small churches are very different.

And there's this:

It is more difficult to build a community of people who know and care for one another, who when they speak, they are heard, who when there is conflicts, all participate in reconciliation and growth, than it is to put on a production and provide religious goods and services where if some people don't like it they can just go shopping elsewhere.


Pastoring a small church has its difficulties, but it's real! Ah, and:

It is more difficult to build a gathering that is a mission in the world, than it is to build a gathering that comes to see the show. It is more difficult to build a gathering into being the Body of Christ in the world than it is to build a crowd into a bigger crowd around a personality. Yes it is more
difficult, but in the end so much more satisfying. And when you're gone this community will keep reproducing the love of Christ, the fruits of the Spirit and the leader(s) to carry on the transformation of the world until Christ returns.

1 comment:

Michael Westmoreland-White said...

Our church is also small. If we gather EVERYBODY, we may have 100 adult members. Unbaptized children may count for another 50 or so. We had maybe 70 people there on Easter Sunday and many were out of town visiting relatives.

Small churches are about community and mission. They are where the real action is--but it is quite difficult to get enough financial support when your church is both small and focused on ministry with and to the poor.