God has blessed me with the amazing privilege of being the pastor of three different small churches.
He’s also graced me with many past and present opportunities to come alongside and assist dozens of small, medium, large, and mega-churches that have come to believe and act as if the Great Commission was just that, a commission/command–not just a Great Suggestion.
Although I’ve learned a number of important things from the churches of all sizes that I’ve interacted with over the years, here’s a summary of what He’s helped me to comprehend by experience, observation, and engagement with small churches.
Once the pastor and leaders of a small church understand that participation in what God is doing around the world is not only possible, but also prescribed by their Lord, a re-evaluation of what He has already blessed them with will begin taking place.
As they begin viewing their congregation as a whole, and the individual members and resources who compose it using biblically-based lenses rather than those provided by the prevailing culture, they stop seeing the obstacles to participation and begin to perceive the unique advantages for global impact that God has already infused in to the fiber of small churches like their own.
They joyfully discover that many of the dynamics and characteristics inherently found in small churches are more effective for contributing to missionary success and global impact than those possessed by large or mega-churches.
When I interact with small church pastors, I tell them that these are just a few of the incredible privileges God has blessed them with because of the size of their church:
1–They’re the primary driver that determines the direction their church is going.
2–Thus, they probably have the final say on what the congregation is exposed to when they gather, especially for Sunday morning services.
3–Which means that they exercise considerable influence over WHAT the members of the church will be interested in, WHY they’re interested, and HOW they embrace it and begin engaging in it.
4—-They are personally acquainted with most, if not all of the church members–they probably know their names, their children and/or grandchildren’s names, and what most of them do for a living.
5–They are either personally familiar with or possibly one person away from knowing about the level of spiritual maturity of most of their members.
6–They are either personally familiar with or possibly one person away from knowing about whether their members are serving, what their gifts are, and how they are perceived by and interacted with by other members of the church.
7–They are either personally familiar with or possibly one person away from being aware of the ones that may be sensing God might be calling them to consider foreign missions, and whether the evidences that usually come with that calling are present.
8–Their Sunday morning service–PRIME TIME–isn’t a production that has rigid start and finish times and requires every component to be scripted and every person put before the congregation to be a polished public speaker.
9–They stand before the congregation knowing that almost all of the members know them personally and have observed many more facets of their life–who they really are–than just what they put on display during their time in the pulpit.
Because every facet of true global impact is the result of relationships at some level, pastors of small churches that view their context as I’ve described above, can confidently begin moving their church towards participation in God’s global purposes.