In this first edition of a Small Church Connections blog I thought that it would be appropriate to answer the question: Why am I concerned about small churches.
There are many reasons but I want to share three that together capture the place of the small church in my own life and in the life of the church in Canada.
The small church is my life
I grew up attending small churches. I served as a pastor in a small-church setting for twenty-three years. My membership, even when I wasn’t the pastor, has always been in the small church family. The result of almost sixty years of small-church experience has been a deep love for the small church.
When I first graduated from Bible College and became the pastor of a small church on the edge of Toronto, I must confess that I had the DREAM. You know the dream that I’m talking about. It is the one that every young pastor has – the large church, the speaking engagements at national conferences, the million dollars budgets.
After some significant failures I lost that dream but I replaced it with a much more biblical one. I wanted to impact lives one person at a time and that can best be done in a small-church setting. It isn’t that it can’t be done in a larger church but it can happen more naturally in a small church.
The small church is and always has been the normal church.
I remember when I first started out as a pastor, I read that I needed to pattern my church after the church in Jerusalem. Here was a church that experienced remarkable growth and according to the books I was reading that was God’s plan for every church. If I was doing my job as I should be doing it, my church would experience that kind of growth.
Actually I don’t know of any church in any era that has grown by three thousand members in one day. The church in Jerusalem is not and never has been an example for other churches to follow. It was a church that operated under a very unique set of circumstances in a unique time and place.My church was located in Canada in the twentieth century in a very different cultural setting.
As just one example of those differences, the leadership in the church in Jerusalem consisted of the apostles, the brothers of Jesus and a few other men such as Stephen and the other deacons. As much as I loved the leaders in that small church in Thornhill, they didn’t quite measure up to the leadership team in Jerusalem.
Reality is that the mega-church has not been the norm for churches down through the centuries and it is not the norm today. The norm is a church with less than one hundred people in attendance that struggles with all of the challenges that a small church faces.
No one else is doing the job
Over the past few months I have come across some very good websites and blogs focused on life in the small church. I will be sharing these links with you in the days ahead. We can never have too many resources designed specifically for the small church. I am thankful for each and every site that has a small-church focus.
But without exception all of these sites are American. If you know of any Canadian sites I will be very grateful if you share them with me. It isn’t that we as Canadians can’t learn from American sites but there is a need for a site that speaks from a Canadian perspective to Canadian church leaders. It is my prayer that this Small Church Connections blog will be a voice for the small church.
Thank you for reading this first entry. I hope that you will be a regular reader each Monday and Thursday and that what is written will be an encouragement to you in your ministry.