When I grew up (and yes, I know I am dating myself), most of my friends and neighbors lived in the same houses for their entire lives. In general those with whom I began school also graduated with me. There was a sense of community. We all knew each other because of the fact that we stayed in one place for decades and built neighborhood that was strong and caring. Our churches benefitted from committed and loyal congregations that invested for years in their members’ lives.
We have evolved into a transient society, and our population has moved to the cities. Although it has its pluses (and I certainly enjoy the perks of a big city), there is no doubt that the sense of community belonging and connection has suffered, both in our neighborhoods and in our churches.
I appreciate Jack Meador’s CT (Christianity Today) article Why We Need Small Towns. I agree with him, but I would expand that need to include small churches both in little towns and in the city. There must be places where we can’t hide from other believers, where people invest in a church and the surrounding community long-term, and where we support those with great needs. A small church can be the perfect place to build connections that last. We are blessed with the advantages of large churches, but there is a huge need for the small as well.
Sadly, because of the lack of funds and the location of most small churches, their pastors are usually the only-full time employees, if they are even full-time, and generally their volunteers are not well-trained for their positions. Of course, women’s ministry cannot be at the top of his list of priorities. The plus in these churches is the depth of community, and their minus is often in the strength and training of the leaders. When competing with dynamic leadership on television, dvd, or internet, their weaknesses become apparent and their members become dissatisfied with the comparisons.
We would love to hear how you have benefited from participating in a small church.