We need churches of all sizes to make disciples. Small, medium and large churches all have their own strengths and weaknesses. I’ve served in churches of all three sizes and now pastor at the Orchard Church, which is a small church.
In our “bigger is better” culture many people walk into a congregation of 20-100 and never return. If they were any good, after all, wouldn’t they be larger?
But what healthy small churches lack in numbers, they make up in many other ways. So, why join a small church?
1. Highly Relational: Small churches value relationships. Both introverts and extroverts can start building deep, meaningful relationships in small churches within a short amount of time.
2. Family: The small church sees itself as a family. While there are some uncomfortable squabbles in families, a healthy small church’s strength is in the mutual care and love they have for each other. An entire family or an individual can join a small church and find themselves fully embraced by the family of God.
3. Pastoral Access: If you have a burning theological question, something in the sermon struck you, or you just need to talk, a small church pastor is readily accessible. You won’t have to go through a long vetting process or wrestle for his time. If you need to talk, there’s usually time in the week to have a good conversation.
4. Ownership: In small churches every member has ownership in the church. While all churches belong to God, in a small church the sense that God has called each member to a mission to reach others with the gospel is hyper-immanent. There is no large staff to accomplish the great commission, just the members!
5. Discipleship: Because of the relational nature of a small church and the close proximity everyone has to each other, the church has no choice but to allow the older to train the younger and be a multi-generational church. With a little bit of structure, discipleship flourishes.
6. Service Opportunities: In small churches, every member really is needed! The disciple-making mission of the church can’t happen unless everyone is helping. Because of this, there are service opportunities for those who want to serve. Has God called you to music? There’s a need in a small church! Has God called you to teach? There’s a place for you to teach! In fact many of the pastors of some of the larger and more influential churches in America grew up in small churches where they had the opportunities to serve in areas that would be closed to them in a larger church.
7. Built for Multiplication: Small churches know how to operate with the bare-minimum. Because of this, as a small church grows larger, they have a tremendous opportunity to send a large portion of their congregation across town and start a new church to reach new people and make new disciples! America needs more healthy churches. And more churches, reaching more people is always a good thing!
Healthy, bible-based churches of all sizes are needed. Small churches are vital to the health of the Universal Church. So, if you’re looking for a church, consider joining a healthy small church!