While on vacation in New York City, I attended a megachurch. One of the musicians has
several CDs to her credit. The scripture reader is a professional narrator and actor. A promotional flyer advertises unusual classes like "Hip Hop Dance in Worship." I am amazed at what God is doing in this evangelical church to grow it so rapidly. And, yes, I am a little jealous. Well, maybe not of the hip hop seminar.
Big churches have so many resources and influences. But the small church is part of God's plan, too. Otherwise, there would not be so many of them. Some church growth books suggest that there is something wrong with a small church that does not aspire to be big. On the contrary, I think that a small congregation, when it is seeking to obey God, can possess positive attributes that a megachurch, because of its size, cannot easily achieve.
Here are six unique advantages of a biblically healthy small church.
1) It provides a home. Church members are growing to love their Father, brothers and sisters. They know individual names and details about those in the family of God. Because Christians are not with strangers in their church home, they can relax and be more transparent.
2) It cements a connection. When an attendee switches from saying your church to speaking of my church, she expresses her integration into the life of the church. A small church gives a sense of belonging instead of being lost in a crowd. The church is important to the member, and the member is important to the church.
3) It extends a welcome. Visitors stand out because there are less of them in a small church. These people are valued and urged to come back. Newcomers receive hospitality, such as directions to the nursery or a warm invitation to coffee fellowship time. Some hear firsthand testimonies by members who love the church.
4) It gives personal pastoral access. A small church's pastor knows the members' names. He sees them in their homes and encounters them in places like the frozen yogurt shop. He is not too busy speaking at national conferences to attend to the needs of his little flock. He provides spiritual support in all situations from birth to death.
5) It requires a commitment. The aforementioned megachurch doesn't publicize when the celebrated primary pastor will be preaching. Presumably, this is so that people will still attend on the Sundays when one of the less famous, albeit capable, pastors is in the pulpit. Most well-known ministers are not pastoring in small churches. Hopefully, the members have loftier goals to motivate their church involvement.
6) It fosters accountability. For a small church to function well, people need to use their spiritual gifts and do their part. One person can make a difference, and perhaps only one person is equipped to do a particularly crucial job. Similarly, if one member is careless about being in church, there is a noticeable hole in the congregation. Someone will inquire about his or her whereabouts.
I enjoy visiting a large city church where God is doing an amazing work. At the same time, I realize that God is big enough to be simultaneously ministering in my small corner of the Christian world. He gives good things to all of His churches, and I am thankful to be a small part of that.