In our society it is not uncommon that when you first meet a person you ask a question of, “So, what do you do for a living?” We answer with a profession to how we support ourselves like “I’m a doctor” or “I’m a plumber.” People are usually satisfied with those responses, but when I say that “I am a pastor of a church” they automatically go into another question, like a part B, wanting to know “Oh, how many do I have going to your church?” Better yet, they come right out to ask, “So, how big is your church?”
In our culture, everything is defined by numbers. How much money you have in the bank account, how many people are sitting in the pews, and how many likes your church receives on Facebook determines your importance and what level of acceptance you receive among peers. If this is the only lens that we choose to look at ourselves as churches, then many would not measure up. Society seems to endorse the concept that “Bigger is better.” Churches with less people, finances and social media presence would feel inadequate and possibly second-class if this was the only measuring stick used to determine your churches effectiveness.
Thankfully God’s economy runs on a whole different level. On a Heavenly level with a Heavenly perspective. God does not see small as a deficiency in the church, but as great opportunity to do His great work through them. Larger congregations have their place and purpose, but the smaller churches cover more geographical area and reach more population than any one large church can do. Every church is important in the Kingdom of God. Every congregation is vital to the work of the Kingdom as a body of believers.
God is known for His using of small things to do great deeds throughout history. He uses a shepherd boy to unite and rule a small nation of Jewish people. God tells Gideon to take a small group of warriors to defeat an army of thousands. Jesus took a boy’s small lunch and fed a multitude till they were full. Yet today, God takes individuals and small groups and revival springs up for a great movement down through the centuries.
Small churches have an even greater impact on the local community in which they are planted in. Small churches are extremely important in our neighborhoods and towns across the nation. They are woven into the fabric of who the community is and are just as important for the people that live around them. The Kingdom work that small and rural churches do cannot be replaced. Because of the intimacy that they offer, small churches can speak the language of the local context. They can feel the pulse of the neighborhood that few could hope to imitate.
Every church regardless of the size, shape, or locality is vital to the work in the Kingdom. Every church is a part of the bigger body. Each church has a function in the body, whether they are an arm or a leg, or a toe or an eye. The small church can demonstrate the big heart, big character, because we serve a big God that is building His big Kingdom. The small church needs to function with the confidence as one with great faith and a mustard seed…”I have a mustard seed and I’m not afraid to use it.”
“How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, “Your God reigns!” Isaiah 52:7
Rob Beckett, pastor of Shepherdsville Nazarene Church on Kentucky District – Restoring “The Image of God” to the Broken and Hurting.