The majority of people in this county who go to church attend small to medium-sized churches. And they, in general, are happy with the size of their church.
But, there is something in the very fabric of church administration and seminaries that persuades churchgoers and pastors to focus on numbers.
The prevalent idea is that a larger church is a more successful church.
Yet, have you ever asked yourself what makes a church successful?
Is it indeed how many people are in the pews – or the bleachers, for that matter?
Does that constitute success for a body of Christ?
Is not our task to not only bring people into the church, but also to send them out into the world?
It seems to me that a successful church is one that has people in the community, doing the work of Jesus, and not one that closes in on itself.
And that characteristic is completely independent of the size of the church.
In fact, of the people I know who are very involved in being Jesus’s hands in the community, the vast majority attend small churches.
The point here is that success in a church can be measured in the heart and in the hands, not in numbers in the pews.
Small churches can be small for important, good reasons.
The question, regardless of the church, is if Jesus is welcome every Sunday, and if they are growing as servants of the Lord.
I am reminded of a story told by Clarence Jordan, the late founder of Koinonia Farm, which would later become Habitat for Humanity.
In the 1950s, an old country preacher invited Jordan to come and speak at his church in rural South Carolina.
Jordan arrived to find, to his surprise, a large, thriving and racially integrated congregation — a remarkable thing in that time and place.
Clarence asked the man how this came about.
The old preacher told him that when he first got there as a substitute preacher, the church was a small, all-white congregation of a few dozen families.
The preacher then gave a sermon on Galatians where Paul writes: “You are all children of God … There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
The preacher said, “When the service was over, the deacons took me in the back room and they told me they didn’t want to hear that kind of preaching no more.”
Clarence asked, “What did you do then?”
The old preacher answered, “I fired them deacons!”
“How come they didn’t fire you?” asked Clarence.
“Well, they never hired me,” the old preacher responded. “Once I found out what bothered them people, I preached the same message every Sunday.”
“I preached that church down to four. But, not long after that, it started growing. And it grew.”
“And I found out that revival sometimes don’t mean bringin’ people in but gettin’ people out that don’t dare to love Jesus.”
Amen and Amen.