Enthusiastically Embracing the Small Rural Church

Small is not a problem

80% of churches run under 100 in attendance.  What if that is not a problem? What if when Jesus said “I will build my church” He had small rural churches in mind. What if Jesus’ idea was for churches of all sizes to work together, big, small, and house churches each contributing something special to the whole church?

What if by trying to fix a problem that isn’t a problem, we’re actually working against the strategy that God wants us to enact and fulfill? A strategy that sees our small churches as a vital tool to be used, not a problem to be fixed or solved? What if God wants our church to be great instead of big?

Great churches don’t just happen by mistake. No matter what size they are. They take much prayer, planning, hard work, cooperation, and the calling of God. But no church can be a great church if they don’t know they can be great in the first place. Small churches and their pastors are laboring under false pretenses, lies, and that their church can’t be great until it becomes bigger. We need to put that lie of the enemy to rest, starting at the heart and ministry of every pastor of every small rural church.

So what if there is lots of small country churches?

So what if our church is small? So what if we are one of the denominations 80%? So what if half of the people that go to church in our denomination go to small congregations instead of big ones? If they are doing good, doing outreaching, Jesus glorifying, Kingdom working, So what if they are small?

We need new ways to look at church health and growth that goes beyond numbers and counting people in the pews. The matrix of church health and growth needs to change and evolve to the environment that we live now. We must be looking at measurements of health, vitality, outreach, and more.

Instead of saying our church is small, So what? We need to say our church is small, now what? What can we do now with the resources we have now? There is a lot of ministry that can be done by churches while they are still small. Including things that can be done better because they are small.

There are many reasons why a church may stay small but there is no reason a church should not be healthy. A healthy church seeks to increase its sending capacity rather than just its seating capacity. There are numerous churches that stay small but are healthy, setting the example.

Planting churches. These churches set examples of sending and planting churches all around them.

Training churches. Small churches that are well suited to train and develop pastors during school years or an early ministry and offer internships during college.

House churches. These are biblical examples of organic church plants.

Micro churches or PAC’s. These are congregations that are sponsored by a parent congregation such as nursing homes, apartment complexes, coffee shops, etc.

There are plenty of reasons why churches may be small, but they can still be healthy churches contributing to the Kingdom of God. We live in a culture that is so obsessed with a bigger is better mindset that we’ve allowed it to creep into the body of Christ. If many of the churches in the world are small, maybe we don’t have a size problem as much as we have a health problem. Just imagine if every small church became healthy, strong, and vibrant, how would being small matter anymore?

Rob Beckett, pastor at Shepherdsville Nazarene Church ion Kentucky District – Restoring “The Image of God” to the Broken and Hurting

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