October 14, 2010

Little Children, Little Problems: Big Children, Big Problems

As a new parent, this saying was little comfort: Little children, little problems; big children, big problems. But now that my kids are grown, I see its wisdom. But it made me wonder if this is also true: Little churches, little problems; big churches, big problems. What do you think?

Like many of you, we've served in churches of all sizes. I seems to me that the problems many big churches face is due, in part, to the sheer complexity of dealing with so many people. But for many little churches, their main issues revolve around just surviving--not enough young families, not enough resources, not enough help from the Conference. This is a really big problem for all of us if our Church is to be the hands and feet of Christ.

While being small is also no excuse for not being a faithful witness, it does mean that the old 80/20 principle just cannot apply--you know where 20% of the people do 80% of the work. I've known many vibrant small churches, but those are also the churches in which everybody helps. There just can't be any dead weight. These are also the churches that can and often do grow. And it takes a lot more than just an energetic, dedicated pastor and spouse.

So what are small struggling churches to do? What is your experience? Should they just be closed and give up? Or is there still a viable place for the small church?


1 comment:

  1. Kathy, I believe that the small churches that dot our highways and byways throughout this country are always speaking to someone in one way or another. The building with a spire that points toward heaven or a cross on the lawn or a stain glass window can remind passersby that there is something greater than themselves. The program of that small congregation may be infinitesimal, but the outreach may be broader than one thinks. The congregation (small or large) needs spiritual nourishment to accomplish the tasks of daily life, and what better place to feed our souls than a small country church or a large city cathedral. There one person at a time can learn the teachings of Jesus, hear the word of God spoken through the pastor and be better equipped to act in a kind and loving way throughout the week.
    So we shouldn't underestimate the struggling churches which seem to be barely keeping their heads above the water. The important thing is to WORSHIP God first and then the evangelism and the programs for Christian outreach will surely follow in one way or another...perhaps with just an illuminated star at Christmas or a reminder on the signs out front that God is Love or What a Friend We Have in Jesus.
    Sometimes I think churches try to "out think" God with programs and money making projects, etc., when what does He require of us but to "do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with your God."
    My feeling is that just because a church remains small doesn't mean it should be closed
    down. Small congregations can have great meaning for those who love the Lord and extend the hand of fellowship during times of stress and distress for families young or old. And I think the 80/20 rule probably is more applicable in the large churches than the small ones...just my feeling (no statistics).
    Hope I haven't rambled too much.