Church is community, and community can be tricky. We bite and devour the people closest to us when things get tough. But that’s just why church community is so important, and I can’t help feeling that small ones are the best kind. We do have a great relationship with our parent church – a much bigger church- and we could not survive without them.
However, there are so many reasons why I’m glad I am part of a small church.
1. We know each other’s struggles
Carmen has a test this week. Mike is having tough conversations with co-workers. Laura’s little Brielle isn’t sleeping well. Louisa passed her passenger CDL test! We know these things about everyone in a way that just isn’t possible with a larger church.
2. We can all fit in one house
Snug, but possible. Throw up a few folding chairs and a pot of coffee, and we are all good to go for Bible studies, prayer meeting, or social meals.
3. We are all needed
It is not possible to be part of a small church without frequent responsibilities. Almost every Sunday, every person has some responsibility. Leading singing. Making a salad. Preaching. Picking up someone who wants to come to church. Teaching Sunday School. This can be kind of exhausting, but we also have a sense of purpose.
4. We love each other intimately
We know who is allergic to cats. We know who hates January the most. We know who loves snow and ice skating. We know each other’s dogs. We know that (praise the Lord!) no one has a cat. We feel division sharply, because we can’t just avoid talking to someone we disagree with. Rifts require fixing.
5. We can share with each person
One Christmas, we all got a $400 gift certificate to a bike shop from one of our own. This exceptional gift felt like a unique benefit of a small church. It is easier to keep track of birthdays and anniversaries in a small group.
6. We have a shared history
We know that Reuben used to think that cookbooks consisted only of original recipes and that Sarah doesn’t like sharks. We also remember how God has led us in the past, from hesitance to confidence.
7. We can all share at prayer meeting
We can still go around the circle and all share a prayer request at prayer meeting. We don’t all have to share, but everyone gets that opportunity.
A small church is kind of like a large family. The common experience of the blood of Christ and the desire to bring hope to the brokenness of the world unites us. This doesn’t mean we always agree, or always get along. But even in our divisions, we have seen the Holy Spirit move us to oneness.
God is the one who works. Ultimately, whether in a big or small church, we can only ever be effective by joining God in His Work.