No one will ever make a list of the best small churches in the world.
And they shouldn’t.
After all, a great urban small church looks very different from a great rural one. Same with a great Baptist and Methodist church. Or a great small church in Japan or Costa Rica.
Even if there was a way to figure that out and put it on a list, it would be a really bad idea. I can’t imagine all the arguments, ego and pettiness that such a list would provoke.
But what if there was such a list? And what if that list could somehow be an accurate one? In this make-believe scenario, could you imagine your church being on the list of the world’s greatest small churches?
If not, why not?
Your Church Has What It Takes
No, this is not going to be another “you need to try harder” blog posts. We’ve all read enough of those.
Rather, I want to take a moment to encourage you and your church to look around and see what you already have.
Jesus told us he would build his church and that the gates of hell would not overcome it. The New Testament writers assured us that the church would be empowered by the Holy Spirit, who would equip his church with all the gifts needed to do the job he called us to do.
If we do a thorough search of the New Testament, we’d find even more such promises and encouragements for both the universal and local church. But do you know what we won’t find? There’s not a single Bible passage that excludes your small church from the promises, blessings and calling God gave every church.
Go ahead, look for yourself. I’ll wait.
“I’ll use your church, but only after you break through the 200 barrier (or 100, or 50 or…).”
God never said that.
“I wish I could work through your congregation, but you don’t have enough money.”
Not that, either.
“If only you had a bigger building. A newer building. Any building.”
No. Negatory. And not even.
Stop Waiting And Start Doing
What if we decided that God’s promises and challenges applied to our church, too? Not in some idealistic future world where everything started turning our way, but right here and right now?
What if every small church decided not to worry about getting bigger, but decided they were going to be the best possible church for their members, their community and the glory of God at the size and situation they’re in right now?
What if, instead of just praying and waiting for revival or renewal, we started doing the stuff? Yes, keep praying. But there’s nothing that will increase the power and urgency of our prayers like stepping out of the boat.
That’s what happened in the small church I’m blessed to pastor. And I know it’s happened in a lot of other churches, too. For years we whined (okay, I whined) that we didn’t have enough money, people or commitment. For even more years we prayed that revival would come. None of that produced anything worth having.
Then we decided to act. We realized our tiny church building was never going to get bigger, so any ministry growth would need to happen outside its walls.
So we started going out. To our neighborhoods in friendship. To the community in service. To the world in missions. And we became what we were. A great church.
If there was a list of great small churches, we’d be on it. Not because we’re better than others, but because we’re doing what God is calling us to do and to be.
A Great Church Starts Now
A great small church (or a great church of any size) doesn’t wait for better days. It doesn’t hope for a turnaraound. It doesn’t whine that there isn’t enough money or commitment. It doesn’t get jealous of the big church down the street.
A great church doesn’t look at the one talent in our hands and bury it until some future better day. A great church starts investing it now.
A great church does what Moses did. We look at the stick in our hand, then we throw it to the ground as we move ahead in obedience to the Great Commandment and the Great Commission.
That’s what a great church looks like.
That’s what your church looks like to Jesus.
It needs to start looking that way to you.
Stay in the Light, 1 John 1:7,