This past week I have been extremely busy doing what I most enjoy doing – meeting with leaders and talking about the small church.
- Sunday October 23 – Preached at Pinewoods Chapel in Angus, Ontario
- Tuesday October 25 – Attended an event put on by the Rural Church Pastors Network in Three Hills, Alberta
- Tuesday October 25 – Met with Mark Maxwell, President of Prairie College in Three Hills, to talk about a possible conference there in 2018
- Wednesday October 26 – Met with Pastor Paul Warnock in Hanna, Alberta
- Thursday October 27 – Met with Pastor Kevin Driver in Banff Alberta
- Saturday October 29 – Held a workshop at the Church of God in Grand Bend, Ontario
- Sunday October 30 – Preached at the Church of God in Grand Bend, Ontario
All of my weeks aren’t that busy but I do love them to be full. There is nothing more fun than meeting with small-church leaders to hear their stories. God is working through small churches in every part of Canada.
As I have met with leaders in all parts of this country there are several conclusions that I have come to regarding small churches.
Conclusion 1: Lives are being changed in the small church
It is not about the size of a congregation or the spaciousness of a building or the size of the budget that is important in a church. It is the lives that are changed.
The truth is that lives are being changed in large churches, mega-churches, middle sized churches and I thank God for every person who is transformed.
Lives are being changed in small churches as well. It is easy when you look around on Sunday and there are only twenty-five or fifty or seventy-five or one hundred people in attendance to think that nothing much is happening but you would probably be wrong.
Lives are being impacted and that is what it is all about.
As part of the small church I attended this past Sunday there was a prayer time in which people could share praise items or prayer requests. The first person to his feet was an older gentleman who shared that fifty-one years ago that weekend, he walked down the aisle in that very church and placed his faith in Jesus Christ as his Saviour.
He shared with me afterwards that he was at a very low point in his life having lost two children in a matter of a few months. God not only saved him for eternity but began to bring him out of his despair. For fifty-one years he has served the Lord in that church.
That is a story that is still being repeated over and over again. The circumstance might be different but the result is the same. Through the witness of a local church someone finds Jesus and has her life transformed.
Conclusion 2: Sacrifices are being made in small churches
Over the last while I have talked with pastors who are only able to continue to serve in their churches because their wives work and bring in a lot of the income.
I have spoken with pastors who can’t afford to buy their own houses and have been willing to forego the security of having equity in their houses.
I have talked with leaders who have made a conscious decision to remain in a small-church context even if a larger church should present itself because they are convinced of the value of the small church.
I have spoken with families who are experiencing feelings of loneliness and isolation but are willing to continue in the places to which God has sent them.
A few years ago I was in a meeting in which someone suggested that no one was willing to make sacrifices for the gospel any longer. I couldn’t stay seated. I had to confront the speaker with the fact that I know of many leaders in small churches that are making incredible sacrifices in order to serve the people whom God has entrusted to them.
I love meeting with small-church leaders because they are an amazing group of people who are making huge sacrifices for the cause of Christ.
Conclusion 3: Someone needs to speak up for the small church
There are a few people across Canada that are speaking up for the small church. I mentioned one of these in my blog last week. I thank God for each and every person or organization that recognizes the value of the small church. We need each of them plus many more.
Part of my goal in serving small churches is to speak up whenever I get the chance. Some times I am just planting a seed in a setting in which the small church has been given little attention. Some times I am encouraging leaders to take some kind of action that serves the small church. Some times I am defending the value of the small church in a setting in which a negative picture is being painted.
Whatever the context I love to speak out on the small-church’s behalf. There are thousands of small church people across this land. I praise God for each person who is a spokesperson for those of you who feel like your voice isn’t being heard.
A short postscript
I do love to visit with small church leaders and would love to visit with you in person or on the phone or through skype. Please feel free to contact me at any time. I would love to hear your story.