Making Peace Seminar Today!

Today: session 10 of a 12-week video series by Jim Van Yperen based on his book, Making Peace: A Guide to Overcoming Church Conflict. Meetings, Sunday mornings, 11:00 a.m.

Benefits of a Small Church

(…continued) 6. It would require less overhead, land and resources. It’s far easier to find or build facilities for 50 small churches than for one massive church. And if the small churches work cooperatively, they can bear the mutual burden of other financial issues, too.

7. More people would get pastored by their pastor. The bigger the church, the fewer people can have access to the pastor. For some people, that’s OK. But for many, it’s not. They’re not being demanding, invasive, or petty to want to attend a church where their pastor baptizes them, dedicates their children, counsels them through marriage problems, and visits them when they’re sick.

8. We could reach more types of people. When we’re trying to get more people in the same building, we tend to aim for the mainstream, often at the cost of forgetting those who live on the fringes. The forgotten and the outcasts should never be forgotten or outcast by the church. Besides, the mainstream is getting smaller than ever, while the fringes are growing. There have, and will always be people who choose to live outside the mainstream of culture. People who don’t want to do what’s popular. People who want a church worship experience that is more quirky, less predictable. Those people are less likely to be reached in large, mainstream groups. Only in small batches.

9. Failure wouldn’t be fatal. Shooting for 50 churches averaging 100 people doesn’t mean we have to cap each church at 100. So, if one or two of the groups happen to get bigger, that’s great! But nothing comes without a cost. When a church of 5,000 fails, the damage is massive. But if there are 50 churches of 100 and one, two or even ten of them fail, the damage, while horrible for those in the failed church, doesn’t affect the rest of the churches. There are a lot of places where big churches won’t work for a variety of reasons. But there’s nowhere on earth where you can’t have a small church. Even in places where Christianity is illegal, small gatherings of Christians still can and do happen. But, even where Christianity is legal, there are a lot of places where it’s getting harder to find positive responses to the gospel’s hopeful, but difficult truths. Those hard places aren’t all in exotic, foreign lands. More often, they are going to be in our own towns and cities. Many of them are distrustful of big organizations, including big churches. But they might be more open to the humble simplicity of a missional small church.

10. More people might want to be pastors. And now we address the elephant in the room. Where are all these pastors going to come from, especially in denominations that already have more churches than pastors? I think, if we allow for a broader definition of church success, and even of what a pastor is, we’d have more people willing to step up and do the work of pastoral ministry. Bivocational pastors have always been more common than most people realize. What if they became an expected norm? If we launched a bunch of intentionally small churches, maybe most of them could be pastored by people with pastoral hearts, but without the years of bank-breaking seminary education. Not instead of seminary-trained theological giants. But alongside them. Let’s not limit ourselves to one type of church, one method of church growth, or one definition of pastoring.

People who need Jesus need all kinds of churches and all kinds of pastors. And Jesus can use them all.

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