Recently, I came across a new blog site, newsmallchurch.com. There, Karl Vaters offers encouragement to churches which are considered small. The standard definition of a small church is a church running 200, or less in attendance. I guess we are overqualified to be in that category! One of the key things of which I have been reminded is that size isn’t important. Our focus should never be that of the gunslinger looking get that next notch. In this case, it would be on our Bible rather than a pistol, but you see where I’m going. We aren’t in the head hunting business only worried about that next new member to add to our collection. The purpose of the church goes so much beyond getting people here. Newsmallchurch recently revisited the great commission and great commandments with a focus on the goal we should have. Here is what they said:
- Worship– to tell Jesus how much we love Him
- Discipleship– to help us become more like Jesus
- Fellowship– to love each other more
- Ministry– to meet people’s needs
- Evangelism– to bring people to jesus
The focus isn’t to do these things so we can grow, but rather do them so we can be healthy. Health should be our focus. If God chooses to make us larger, praise Him. If He chooses to let us stay the same size yet be healthier, great. These aren’t just random ideas. They come from the things to which the first church devoted themselves.
Acts 241-47 says, “41 So those who accepted his message were baptized, and that day about 3,000 people were added to them. 42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and to the prayers. 43 Then fear came over everyone, and many wonders and signs were being performed through the apostles. 44 Now all the believers were together and held all things in common. 45 They sold their possessions and property and distributed the proceeds to all, as anyone had a need.[p] 46 Every day they devoted themselves to meeting together in the temple complex, and broke bread from house to house. They ate their food with a joyful and humble attitude, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And every day the Lord added to them[q] those who were being saved.”
Yes, they had phenomenal numerical growth, but more importantly, they were healthy! That growth arose out of the health. In the early days of the church, they hadn’t yet divided into sects over ideas and prejudices yet. They hadn’t grown so sophisticated that they had traditions which ruled them. In those days of first steps, the believers loved God and each so much they were devoted to carrying out the great commission in the spirit of the great commandments.
I want to be like them! I’m not against growth. But I am concerned mostly with church health. If we are healthy, then God will show us our niche in the Kingdom and we will be successful in accomplishing it.