felt like a sellout. It was time to leave seminary and begin pastoral ministry, and I was taking the easy road by moving back to my hometown in Northern Florida. My seminary neighbor, I thought, was the true missionary, heading to plant churches in Northern California. I had “missional insecurity,” the way Christians feel when they plan a spring break trip to some resort before learning their friends are going on mission trip. All of this good education and knowledge about the urgency of the gospel . . . and I was going to be a pastor in the Bible Belt?
There is an undeniable, irresistible resilience of the small church. Small churches are not better than big churches. Big churches aren’t better than small ones.
The arguments we have about size are silly, dangerous and missing the point.
Everyone has something unique to contribute.
As for small churches, here are some of the most undeniable, irresistible blessings they bring to the body of Christ:
According to a LifeWay Research survey of 1,000 Protestant pastors sponsored by Exponential:
21 percent of churches have fewer than 50 people attending Sunday services
35 percent of churches have 50 to 99 people attending Sunday services
32 percent of churches have 100 to 249 people attending Sunday services
11 percent of churches have 250 or more people attending Sunday services
6 in 10 churches are plateaued or declining in attendance
Sharing Christ with a member of another faith tradition can be frightening. And some traditions seem to cause more angst than others. In my experience, one causing a great sense of trepidation is Mormonism.
This need not be the case.
Let’s consider a few ways to reach our Mormon neighbors as effectively as possible, so they will turn from false religion and follow the Jesus of Scripture.
A rising number of Christians in the West are coming to grips with the reality that the Judeo-Christian worldview no longer holds sway.
Of course, we’ve always known that there are parts of the world where missionaries undertake their work in the teeth of opposition—opposition that is sometimes cultural, sometimes judicial.
“I don’t need to be in a small group. I’ve got my family and my Jesus.”
I’ve heard this before and guess it makes sense. If Christian have Jesus, why do they need to pursue other relationships that add commitments to their already busy schedules?
One reason comes from the model Christ provides. Scripture shows Jesus spending the majority of his earthly ministry in community.
Most of us follow the same pattern when we want to learn about something before we do it: Hop on over to Amazon and we see what books are available.
However, if you type “church planting” into the Amazon search bar, it spits back 845 different resources. If you don’t know much about church planting, it can be nearly impossible to decide where to begin.
“We come in with these ideas and expectations that we start imposing on communities. We think, I want it to look like this, right? And when we talk about ‘urban’ and ‘diversity,’ it’s so trendy right now. We’re bringing things to the conversation and essentially saying, ‘I want to impose what I think it should look like onto this community and judge everything by a standard not warranted in Scripture.’” — Kris Brosett
Eighteen years ago when I first came to Japan as a missionary, I had to clarify my purpose. The Japanese unbelievers around me wondered aloud about the nature and intent of my work. A young Japanese Christian even told me, “We don’t need missionaries anymore.”
Whenever missionaries make disciples among unreached people, the missionary task includes starting a new church. That’s the implicit logic of the Great Commission (Matt. 28:18–20) with its call to baptize new believers. (Baptize them into what? A church!)