The strategically small church

Good morning everyone,
Our theme for this month: “Be smart, be strategic”
Our Bible verse for today: “The churches in the province of Asia send you greetings. Aquila and Priscilla greet you warmly in the Lord, and so does the church that meets in their house.” 1 Corinthians 16:19 (NIV)
Our thought for today: “The strategically small church”
First thing this morning, I need to correct something I wrote yesterday. Yesterday I wrote that over 90% of all churches consist of less than 100 members and attenders. I wrote that statement from memory (which is often faulty) without checking my facts. In my research for today’s devotional, I came across the correct numbers and so I want to give them to you. Approximately 94% of all churches have less than 500 in attendance on an average Sunday, and almost 70% have fewer than 100. Those are the correct numbers, but the point still holds that the vast majority of churches are small not large. That has always been the case, from the earliest days of Christianity and for the two thousand years since then.
There’s a mistaken notion that because thousands came to faith in Christ in response to Peter’s sermon on the day of Pentecost, and since Acts chapter two tells us that the Lord added to their numbers daily, the early church in Jerusalem must have been the first “megachurch”. But that would be an inaccurate understanding. The large gatherings we read about on the day of Pentecost, and events like when Jesus fed the 5000, those were more like Billy Graham crusades. They were special events involving large crowds. Most of the regular gatherings of Christians were small affairs that met in homes. Almost all Christian churches in those days were house churches, which is what Paul was referring to in 1 Corinthians 16:19.
However, despite the fact that the overwhelming majority of churches are and have been small, we still have this bad habit of measuring success by the size of the crowd. I once read a statement that described perfectly what almost every pastor of a small congregation (including me) feels when someone asks about the size of our congregation. This pastor wrote, “I love our congregation and what God is doing through it. So why is it I feel insecure every time someone asks me how many people attend our church?”
That statement came from the most helpful “pastor book” I’ve ever read. It is “The Strategically Small Church: Intimate, nimble, authentic, effective” by Brandon O’Brien. In it, O’Brien makes the case that “small church” is the Lord’s preferred model for church life, and that the small church is actually strategically built to be the most effective kind of church. He then proceeds in the book to help pastors and church leaders understand how to identify and build on the inherent strengths of their smallness.
In the days to come we will think about some of the most helpful points from that book. I hope doing so will help pastors and members of small churches to see their small church in a new way. The fact is that we can be smart and strategic about being small.
God bless,
Pastor Jim   
Copyright © 2022 Oak Hill Baptist Church, All rights reserved.

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