What the small church offers...

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    oldgrappler's Avatar
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    What the small church offers...

    The thread on the trend regarding Millennials leaving the church included the theme that many are making their way to the so-called Mega-Churches where there may be better entertainment, better programs, rock music, more people their age, and a host of other things that may attract people to the large non-denominational churches.

    My question for you: "What does the small church have to offer?" What is it about the small church, perhaps your small church, that would commend it to those who may be seeking a church to attend?

    My assumption is that the large church will attract certain people because of what it can offer in programming, etc. because it has a big budget, a large staff, and many volunteers. A small church can't do that. But what does a small church do well that may be unique to the small church or at least not as readily experienced in a large church?
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    Jumper_Dad's Avatar
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    Personal attention and a connection with everyone in the congregation are a couple of things small churches have going for them.

    I've went to both and at one mega church I never got within 50 feet of the pastor. We had a good relationship with a couple of the associate pastors but outside of that we never really felt at home. Smaller churches absolutely have their drawbacks as mentioned in the first post, but a closeness that actually feels like an extended family is much more prevalent.

    Some bigger churches with more programs are a better fit for some people while a more intimate settings is a better fit for others. It all depends on what you are looking for, the most important thing about church beyond the reason for going in the first place is that you feel accepted and are comfortable there (sermons not withstanding).

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    PP1's Avatar
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    People are more able to be involved in a smaller church. It's hard to be active in a mega-church (based on what I've heard). The church is supposed to be like a family.

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    A sense of community and family. My wifes church is a small church of about 80 people maybe. Everyone knows everyone.

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    Going to service in a Mega Church feels like worshipping with a bunch of strangers. I also feel like they are run more like a business and have so much $ they concern themselves with risks , that biblically, we are supposed to take. A small church is an extension of family. I know by first name 3/4 of the people I worship with.

    I have to admit though, my kids were attracted to large church worship services that employ modern christian music.

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    As a small town guy, I always enjoyed a smaller church. We are in a larger church now and enjoy that very much as well.

    As long as the main thing remains the main thing, God will bless.

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    Our Church was 50 to 60 when I started attending about 25 years ago. Now we`ve built a new one and are currently seeing 350 to 400 every Sunday. There has been alot of changes. Sometimes it`s hard for an old school guy like me to wrap his head around.But I also know the main purpose of the Church is to reach the lost. It seems that now there is so many outreach programs and new people getting involved with different programs, that in my heart I know that change sometimes is needed. I see so many of our small Churches out here in the country with little or no youth programs at all and I wonder when all the older leaders pass on what will become of their Churches.

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    I go to a small church & like stated in the previous posts find the intimacy of the small-membership congregation to be one of the strengths-the family atmosphere, where everyone is important, needed, and wanted.

    People connect with one another and interact as reminders of Godís grace in their midst. A depth of caring surrounds the worshiper in a small-membership congregation. The congregation celebrates being the people of God by honoring each personís place in the kingdom of God.

    Effective and faithful worship has nothing to do with the size of the congregation.

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    I grew up in a small country church and as a teen drifted away from church and God for a period of time. I remember the first Sunday I came back to my church a little old lady with white hair up in a bun, and skin that looked like leather cracked from the sun put her arm around me, called me by name, and said, "I am so glad to see you here today. I have been praying for you." I knew she meant it and it really touched me to think she had carried me on her heart for those many years.

    As young people grow up and leave our church, some stop going altogether and some go to the mega church, I wonder if they know what they are leaving behind. Those faithful people who have prayed for them for years, taught them in Sunday School and youth group, had them over for a fellowship meal, brought meals to their family in time of crisis, etc. are to be treasured.

    It is interesting to hear of how often people who have left the small church and begun to attend a mega church return to ask their small church pastor to marry them and have premarital counseling, etc. because their current pastor "doesn't know them."

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    Oldbird's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PP1 View Post
    People are more able to be involved in a smaller church. It's hard to be active in a mega-church (based on what I've heard). The church is supposed to be like a family.
    Where does that idea come from? It is only hard if you choose not to be involved. I have no shortage of opportunities to be involved in some incredible ways that I believe really impact people.

    A large church is only not like a family if you choose to not make it like a family. The people I have served with for years at my current church are similar to the people at my old (much smaller) church.

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    Quote Originally Posted by oldgrappler View Post
    I grew up in a small country church and as a teen drifted away from church and God for a period of time. I remember the first Sunday I came back to my church a little old lady with white hair up in a bun, and skin that looked like leather cracked from the sun put her arm around me, called me by name, and said, "I am so glad to see you here today. I have been praying for you." I knew she meant it and it really touched me to think she had carried me on her heart for those many years.

    As young people grow up and leave our church, some stop going altogether and some go to the mega church, I wonder if they know what they are leaving behind. Those faithful people who have prayed for them for years, taught them in Sunday School and youth group, had them over for a fellowship meal, brought meals to their family in time of crisis, etc. are to be treasured.

    It is interesting to hear of how often people who have left the small church and begun to attend a mega church return to ask their small church pastor to marry them and have premarital counseling, etc. because their current pastor "doesn't know them."
    Do you know who ministers to my family when we have a need? The community of people we serve with, our small group, the people from our church. The only difference in a large church is the person who delivers the message on Sunday may not be the one. The church (the people) are the ones who do the ministering to others in the body and really isn't that a better model than laying all of that on the professional minister?

    As far as who does marriage counseling, does your funeral, marries you -I think those are horrible reasons for what church you are a part of; however, if you are an active part of church, serving, and in small groups, it would be pretty hard for you not to connect with some professional minister (if that is important to you).

    Who will marry my kids, do their premarital counseling, and do our funerals is not even a consideration for us. I was asked over spring break by one of the "kids" (she is now over 30) that we had in our youth group a long time ago, why do we attend the church we go to. I came up with 2 reasons: 1.) I like being challenged in a some big ways (I know that goes counter to everything a lot of you think about mega-churches), but in my 16 years at my church the bar keeps getting raised for me and 2.) they are a part of some works at home around the globe that simply are crazy difficult. Rescuing girls from sex trafficking in India is not glamorous, it can be sad and depressing (when we send people to India and Nepal it isn't one of those feel good mission trips and pictures with smiling children - in fact you can't even take pictures which eliminates those touching Facebook posts), it can be dangerous (when you remove someone's income producing asset from their brothel they typically don't take it well) and yet this is one of the primary initiatives our church invests (big dollars and lots of volunteers). Changing the trajectory of the "least of these" in a huge way.

    I would rather be a part of Crossroads (through our partnership with International Justice Mission - one of the most amazing global Christian ministries in the world) initiative to rescue girls in the sex trade in India and Nepal and not know who will marry my kids. My best friends daughter just got back from Nepal - incredible work there.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Oldbird View Post
    Do you know who ministers to my family when we have a need? The community of people we serve with, our small group, the people from our church. The only difference in a large church is the person who delivers the message on Sunday may not be the one. The church (the people) are the ones who do the ministering to others in the body and really isn't that a better model than laying all of that on the professional minister?

    As far as who does marriage counseling, does your funeral, marries you -I think those are horrible reasons for what church you are a part of; however, if you are an active part of church, serving, and in small groups, it would be pretty hard for you not to connect with some professional minister (if that is important to you).

    Who will marry my kids, do their premarital counseling, and do our funerals is not even a consideration for us. I was asked over spring break by one of the "kids" (she is now over 30) that we had in our youth group a long time ago, why do we attend the church we go to. I came up with 2 reasons: 1.) I like being challenged in a some big ways (I know that goes counter to everything a lot of you think about mega-churches), but in my 16 years at my church the bar keeps getting raised for me and 2.) they are a part of some works at home around the globe that simply are crazy difficult. Rescuing girls from sex trafficking in India is not glamorous, it can be sad and depressing (when we send people to India and Nepal it isn't one of those feel good mission trips and pictures with smiling children - in fact you can't even take pictures which eliminates those touching Facebook posts), it can be dangerous (when you remove someone's income producing asset from their brothel they typically don't take it well) and yet this is one of the primary initiatives our church invests (big dollars and lots of volunteers). Changing the trajectory of the "least of these" in a huge way.

    I would rather be a part of Crossroads (through our partnership with International Justice Mission - one of the most amazing global Christian ministries in the world) initiative to rescue girls in the sex trade in India and Nepal and not know who will marry my kids. My best friends daughter just got back from Nepal - incredible work there.
    That is fantastic. My small church participates in the same kinds of international ministries that you mentioned here, and many more, in some of the darkest places in the world because we are part of a larger fellowship of churches (an evangelical denomination). We couldn't do those things if we were not. But because we are, we are very involved, going, sending, praying, and giving. Our emphasis is on church planting because we are in it for the long haul but we also do every kind of relief work and address every need imaginable to the least. And I know my pastor, the one who will marry my kids. It is not either/or.

    My thread is not intended as a competition with the large church or "mega-church" but as a way to elicit from people what they like about their small church. In our culture, bigger means better in lots of people's minds. I know some others overreact by thinking bigger necessarily means impersonal. It does not. I have heard many experts and large church pastors say that the larger you get, the smaller you have to get. In other words, you have to get people connected in small groups for service and discipleship. In those places you can build deep bonds of fellowship, much like is found in the small church.

    I do not believe there is only one way to do church. House churches worked incredibly well in China as the church multiplied underground during times of outright persecution and constant oppression. The trend in the US right now is towards the mega church for a lot of reasons, many good reasons, and no doubt, some not so good.

    BTW, your opening paragraph also describes the small church with the exception that everyone knows the pastor and the pastor knows everyone. The pastor does not do all the ministry in the small church either. The people do, which as you say, is as it ought to be (Ephesians 4:11-13).

    I am not wanting this thread used as a way to bash the mega church, but as a place to express the positive influence they have had from the small church. It is meant to encourage those who attend small churches. The implication so often made is that because you may have less than 100 people on a Sunday morning means there is something deficient with your church. I don't think that is fair.

    God is a God of variety and all varieties are good when they are submitted to the Head of the church. 1 Corinthians 12 says there are different kinds of gifts, different kinds of ministries, and different kinds of effects, and God is responsible for each of them. The different kinds of effects is applicable here. Billy Graham is an evangelist. My friend, Doug, is also an evangelist. Same gift. Billy Graham's ministry was to the globe in large crowds and stadium events. My friend Doug speaks to individuals, one by one, at work or in his neighborhood,etc. Both he and Billy Graham share Christ. Though they have the same gift, they have very different kinds of ministries. Billy Graham has won thousands to Christ over the decades and perhaps hundreds at one event. My friend Doug has won dozens of people to Christ over his lifetime, one at a time. Same gift, different ministries, and different effects. But the Spirit gave the gift to each. The Lord called them to their respective ministries. ANd it is God who brings about the results (effects) just as He intended it. Both men are faithful to what God has given them as stewards of His gifts.

    I think my illustration is an example of the large church/ small church discussion. They both are a gift of God and have a certain ministry role to play and God gives the increase. Both can be faithful to the Lord, blessed by the Lord, and used by the Lord for His glory. One may have a 1,000 members and be growing larger every year. Another may be 60 members and see some growth for a few years and then have a couple families move away and be back to 65 people. On the flip side, both can be unfaithful to their calling. I don't think the size of the church indicates whether one is faithful or unfaithful.

    My point, @Oldbird, is that my thread is not a jab at the mega church. I am sorry if it or my subsequent post came across that way. It's hard not to bring up things by way of comparison. I don't think the mega church can do something the small church cannot do and I don't think the small church can do something the mega church cannot do, but I think each has its strengths and weaknesses. Some people may function better in the small church setting and others in the large church setting. I have been in both. My preference is a smaller church. Your preference may be other than mine. That's okay.

    In this thread, I wanted to give a place for people in smaller churches to mention some of the blessings God has bestowed on them through the ministry of small churches and for which they are thankful. Too often, the connotation of small in many people's minds means ill-prepared, unprofessional, too laid back to accomplish anything, etc., etc. If you are in a small church you have felt it from others. Let's build one another up without tearing anyone else down.

    BTW, when someone comes to my pastor and asks to be married by him, he asks if they attend somewhere else. If they do, whether it is a large church or a small church, he tells the couple they should return to their church and let their pastor have the privilege of counseling with them and marrying them. They should get married in the church they will attend because that is the body of believers who will be ministering to them and if their marriage begins to have trouble, that is the group of people, and the pastor who will be responsible to shepherd their souls through the crisis. That is why I think it is important for a couple to know the person who marries them and counsels them. Relationship builds trust. And when one is making the most important decision of one's life, it is a good thing to receive that counsel from someone who knows you and is a person you respect and trust. I am happy to agree to disagree on this point and leave it at that.

    So folks, please keep your comments to what you like about your small church and resist saying anything negative about the large church.

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    Nice post OG. I guess I just feel like larger churches take way too many shots (many if not most are not deserved).

    I will tell you one thing I think a small community based church can do way better than a large church and that is student ministry. If you have a group of kids who all go to one (or a couple at most) schools, then doing student ministry is much more effective, IMO.

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    Thanks, @Oldbird, and you are right. Many times people make assumptions and then take shots when they don't have enough knowledge of the situation to know if their criticism is fair or accurate. I have been guilty of the same. I wish my foot wasn't so large. It would be easier to remove from my mouth.

    Grace and peace to you.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Oldbird View Post
    Where does that idea come from? It is only hard if you choose not to be involved. I have no shortage of opportunities to be involved in some incredible ways that I believe really impact people.

    A large church is only not like a family if you choose to not make it like a family. The people I have served with for years at my current church are similar to the people at my old (much smaller) church.
    OK. It sounds like you have a lot more experience than I do in this regard. I probably should not have responded, because I have never attended a mega size church on a regular basis

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