Should you serve in 'small' church?

Posted by Karen Soole Karen Soole
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We are a small church. The word small will conjure up all sorts of images in peoples minds depending on what your church experience is. Do I mean 200, 100, 50, 30 , 20, 10? Well I mean small as in a house group trying to punch above our weight kind of small. We started with four plus three children so we are a bit bigger than we were but still small. We long to be firmly established but it is hard. We are a very small group of believers trying to reach out into our community. Friendship evangelism is great but being so few we quickly run out of friends and contacts! We are working out how to innovate opportunities for the gospel and we have begun some ventures in which we are beginning to make contacts with families. Our community quizes are packed. Last Saturday we had over 20 kids with their parents at our Lego Builders club all hearing something of the gospel. Yet now term has finished and we have again lost students as they move on and as church family go on holiday, or Christian camps, we face some Sundays when there will be less than 10 of us again. We are seeking to reach out but at times we think we may not be viable at all.

We have had a few Christian families and individuals visit us over the last few years but they have not stayed but gone to larger churches in the city. We do not provide a peer group for them or their children. We cannot provide a comfortable church experience in which you can come along for the ride. That is not to say that we don’t seek to love and support each other. We get to know one another well as we work together shoulder to shoulder for the gospel. We have had several international students join us because they are here for only a couple of terms and they feel quickly welcomed and part of our church family. We miss them when they go. Small church can be very good. Everyone matters in the church. The body is made up of many parts and every part is necessary and valuable and we really feel it in small church. When there are few of you everyone is needed. Sadly we have had to cancel Lego Builders for July and September because we cannot staff it even though families would come! We would love to be able to run Lego builders more regularly! We need workers for the harvest field. We are not alone. Small churches up and down the country struggle with the same problems.

There is a phrase that does the rounds in some Christian circles ‘people worth watching’. It is used to identify those who perhaps should be encouraged or trained for full time gospel ministry.  That is a good thing. We do need pastors and teachers and some need to be set apart for this task. But what about everyone else? If we are not careful we end up giving the message that ministry is for some not everyone because we think of ministry purely in terms of word ministry. We need to promote every member ministry. We need people to realise that even if their gifts are not teaching or word based that they have a vital role in the body of Christ. We need everyone to think strategically about where they go to church and why. We need to call one another to be radically gospel focused. There is a need for Christians with every type of gift to consider moving for the sake of the gospel.

Our church is just an example of many. Our primary need is not financial but we need people. We would benefit from believers joining us who have an evangelistic heart, who want to get to know their neighbours and share the gospel, and offer hospitality. We would love someone with administration gifts who could take on the role of treasurer. We would love more musicians so we could increase our repertoire and never have to resort to ‘canned’ music . We would love older people who would like to support younger families, run a creche, perhaps start something new for under 5’s. We would love help to flyer the housing estates we are sandwiched between. Even in small church there are loads of jobs to do - setting up, clearing up, etc. etc. We would love never  to have to cancel a Lego Builders Club again! All this might sound daunting and a bit off putting -one man said outright that he did not want to join us because in small church there is always lots of jobs and he did not want to feel burdened. The truth is that in small church there is also space to be supported by your church family who will be encouraged just by your presence on a Sunday morning. Simultaneously just by turning up it can help make Church a less daunting experience for the visitor. It isn’t all jobs and rota’s - small church is very relational.

Wouldn’t it be exciting if every believer in the UK prayerfully considered where they could serve best, where they are most needed. Some need to stay exactly where they are but does everyone?  Some may find that they have things to offer that they have never discovered before when they venture to a church to serve and not to be served. Could you serve in a small church?