Tuesday, September 9, 2008
Small Strong Churches
It seems that in America we equate strength with size. If you serve a congregation that has less than 100 members, you must be working with a “weak” or “dying” church. Now there are small churches that are weak and dying, but it is my belief that there are many small congregations that are strong and vibrant. What sets these congregations apart is that they focus on their strengths and not simply on “numbers.” Congregations that focus on numbers fail to concern themselves with people. Focusing on size for its own sake is unhealthy. When a congregation instead focuses on its strengths, the future is bright! It is important for small congregations to focus on the strengths they have and not the ones they wish they had! So, the question is, “What do small, strong congregations have going for them that makes them strong?” I feel the biggest thing that a small congregation brings to the party is the sense of community. In a large congregation it is possible to worship anonymously and never get totally involved in the work of the church. When a new person walks into a church of hundreds (or in some places even thousands) of people they are likely to go unnoticed by most people in attendance. When a new person (or family) walks into a congregation of 50-100 people, EVERYONE knows that they are there! This makes the invitation into community more important to the smaller congregation. People go to the larger congregation to be anonymous, but people come to the small church to be a part of the community. Therefore, it is imperative for the small church to be a welcoming church. When new people come in, do the greeters not only welcome them, but introduce them to others that they are seated next to? Are they invited to a fellowship time? Are they helped to find where the rest rooms and class rooms are? Hospitality and a true welcoming spirit is more than just a hearty handshake—it is caring enough for the visitor to make them feel not only welcome, but comfortable in their new surroundings!