I want to challenge you to consider the benefits of attending a smaller church. A few months ago, I read a book that was truly an eye-opener. The book is The Grasshopper Myth by Karl Vaters. He begins this book in chapter one by commenting on the chapter title:
Hi, I’m Karl and I’m a Small Church Pastor
If the title of this chapter sounds like an Alcoholics Anonymous introduction, you’ve got the right idea. I am a Small Church Pastor. And I am not a failure…
I propose that the following is true…
We are not sick
We are not failing
We are not stuck
We are not incompetent
We are not limited in our vision
We do not need to be fixed
We are not less than…
We are God’s idea.
We are small
Because we are small we have blessings to offer to the body of Christ, our communities, our cities, our nations, and our world that no one else can offer in quite the way we can.
He immediately got my attention. I read the entire book in the next several hours. Then I read it again. This book raises the smaller church to the level that God intended for it to be. As of the date of this blog, I have been in ministry 34 years both as a missionary, an evangelist, and a pastor. I have served the current church I pastor for almost 20 years. I also am a small church pastor. I join the author of the Grasshopper Myth to say that small churches have great value.
Here is a startling statistic that Karl Vaters gives us: There are approximately 4000 mega churches in the world that approximately 100 million people attend. That is pretty impressive. But stop to consider that 1 billion people drive by the mega churches all over the world to attend smaller churches. That means that pastors and leaders in small churches all over the world have a huge assignment from the Lord.
Let me give you what I believe to be the value and benefit of our small church:
- Our people know and love each other
At Fountain of Life, we know each other well. Some of the members of our congregation have been friends for longer than I have been there and I have been there for almost 20 years. We do life together.
When someone faces a difficult moment, they know they have friendships that are deep. I have literally watched our church members clean the house of someone who was very ill with cancer. I know for a fact that when someone’s car broke down, some of the church family chipped in.
We talk. We sometimes even argue. At times our brokenness is evident. But at times like that, our faith is even more evident. We forgive each other, we forbear with one another, we rejoice with each other. We are truly family.
The best part of our church is that we are multicultural, multinational, and multiracial. We reflect the cosmopolitan community of West Houston. And guess what? We all love each other. In a day when racial tension is high… we are literally fulfilling… they know we are Christians by our love.
As a long term pastor, I have had families leave…and then come back. Usually they say something like this. We just love the people here and feel at home. (and here I thought it was my preaching)
- We have seen people come to Christ
There is no joy like being a part of people coming to Christ. There are many today who have the mindset that smaller churches are not effective in reaching lost people. I disagree. As a missionary in Colombia, S.A., I recall numerous home churches and family group churches that God was using in beautiful ways.
We have seen people born again and have been with them as they have become disciples of Jesus. We don’t foolishly compare ourselves to others and try to count how many were born again through our ministry. We simply do our best with what we have. This last week, I know for a fact that we are working towards loving and caring about families where there are chemical dependency issues. We matter because eternity has been affected by our lives.
- We have ample opportunity for people to get involved
Small churches can almost always find a place of service for those who care to get involved. In fact, sometimes I think a small church fit is better for those who need to take those first steps in ministry. We are a place where people with a heart to serve grow in grace and knowledge and experience.
- We are providing a place for other churches in our facility as well.
Across the years, we have opened up our church facility so that others can meet there. We pray it is a blessing for them. I think this is important as well. It makes good sense and good use of facilities and we get along as brothers.
- The Senior Pastor and his wife are available to speak to anyone.
I left this reason for last. I figured that if you read this far you are really interested. It’s not that I want to toot my own horn. However, 34 years of pastoring and full time involvement in the lives of people have taught me some things. I have 37 years of marriage experience with my wife. I have raised three sons. We have faced all kinds of ups and downs and learned that God is greater. We have faced ministry obstacles, setbacks and disappointments and are still serving.
Unfortunately, we have fought some wolves in sheep’s clothing. We have made financial mistakes and a few good choices for which we are grateful. Our life experiences are available and you don’t really need an appointment. Most of our people have our cell phone.
The bottom line of all this is…God has put us here. Hi, I’m Bob and I pastor a small church…and I am so grateful for the wonderful people I serve.
In the words of Bill Olson, one of my friends and colleagues, “It is just enough that we are together.”