While it may seem as if large churches with lots of programs are the most popular choice for Christians, the statistics tell otherwise. In a recent release regarding the state of the church, the Barna Group (Ventura, California) reports,
…the largest group of American churchgoers attends services in a more intimate context. Almost half (46%) attend a church of 100 or fewer members. More than one-third (37%) attend a midsize church of over 100, but not larger than 499. One in 11 (9%) attends a church with between 500 and 999 attenders, and slightly fewer (8%) attend a very large church of 1,000 or more attendees. (www.barna.org)
My church has around 120 members currently, which technically puts it in the midsize category. It still feels like a small church to me, though, as I have attended much larger churches in the past. Here are twelve reasons I love my “smaller” church:
1. I hear Christ preached every Sunday.
My pastor preaches about the saving work of Christ every Sunday. Whether he is going through an Old Testament or New Testament book, he makes the drama of the Bible come alive, which helps me to remember the sermon. Each Sunday, my pastor comforts the congregation with the peace we have with God because of Christ’s finished work on our behalf.
2. The pastor knows my family.
I don’t have to worry about getting to know the pastor and having him get to know my family. His whole family knows my whole family, and we get to talk with each other between church services and Sunday school every week.
3. I get to visit with lots of people after the service.
I know this might sound strange, but I actually get to chat with more people at my small church than I ever did at big churches I attended. When I was a member of a large church with multiple services, I wasn’t always at the same service as my friends. I also had trouble even finding them during the social time between services. I literally do not have enough time to chat with everyone at my small church. It’s so much fun to connect with my brothers and sisters in Christ and catch up with them from the previous Sunday.
4. My church hosts monthly get-togethers for the whole congregation.
My church has a monthly event called Third Friday Fellowship. On the third Friday of each month, we go to someone’s home (usually the pastor’s house) for food, drinks, and fellowship. There is always a theme such as Spanish tapas, French cheese, stone oven pizza, paella, or homemade ice cream. My pastor usually does a lot of the cooking, and the food is delicious! Still, the fellowship is the best part. We talk, laugh, and sometimes even shed a tear together. I get so disappointed if I can’t make it to a Third Friday Fellowship.
5. I get to make friends with people of all ages.
I’m not a grandmother yet, but I would like to be one! In the meantime, I get to enjoy spending time with the sweet children in our congregation. It makes me happy to watch them grow in the love of the Lord. It’s also a great blessing to be mentored by older people in my congregation. We don’t need to repeat the same mistakes over and over, because our heavenly Father gives us wise, older Christian brothers and sisters to guide us along the way to spiritual maturity.
6. When I’m gone, people miss me.
When I went to a big church, people didn’t seem to notice much when I wasn’t there. At my small church, I know I will be missed if I can’t attend. I get sad when my fellow church members are gone on Sunday, because I miss them too!
7. When the pastor administers the Lord’s Supper, it feels like a family meal.
Participating in the Lord’s Supper can feel even more intimate in a small church setting. It makes me happy to think about the feast that awaits all of God’s children as I partake of the bread and wine with my brothers and sisters in Christ.
8. I know all the elders.
In my small church, I get to say hello to the elders every week and they all know me. They are always so friendly and encouraging. The elders are devoted to shepherding the congregation, and it gives me peace of mind to know that my family has a group of people who are there 24/7 to care for us.
9. If I have any questions about the Bible or daily life, I can always ask my pastor after church or during the week.
In big churches it can be difficult to connect with the pastor, because he may have more complex and diverse responsibilities. The pastor of my small church is easily accessible if anyone in my family needs pastoral care or answers to theological questions. My pastor has spent many years in seminary and on his own learning about God’s Word, so he is well equipped to answer my family’s questions.
10. My church has fun activities each month.
Whether it’s a chili cook-off, talent show, fellowship meal, or hike, our small church has fun activities for members to do each month. I can join in or not, as my schedule permits. Participating in these activities is a great way to get to know each other, since there is never enough time between services to visit!
11. My church loves to grow.
Even though my church is on the smaller side, we love to grow! When my husband and I first came to visit our church, everyone was very welcoming and friendly and made us feel at home. We were excited to return and hear another wonderful sermon and get to know everyone better. It is always a joy when people come to visit our church. Whether or not visitors join our congregation, it is a great opportunity to meet fellow Christians, as well as seekers who want to learn about God, and encourage them along the way.
12. We are family.
There is nothing quite like being in a congregation where you know everyone and everyone knows you. My brothers and sisters in Christ love me, and they are there to support me in the happy and difficult times of life, as I am for them. They eagerly support missionaries around the world and show the love of Christ to their neighbors however and whenever they can. Small and big churches are precious gems in Christ’s kingdom. I’m so thankful to the Lord for mine.