I am under the impression that there are some in the wide world of God’s kingdom who view the size of a congregation as the empirical test of spiritual power and prestige. Somehow the idea that “bigger is better” has crept into the mindset of those who see the church as a montage of programs and that the only blessed ministry is a fully-funded, highly-staffed and overtly energetic experience. There is, however, no biblical basis for such a systemic view of the church.
But, let’s leave that aside for a moment and wax pragmatic. Let’s tackle the idea that “bigger is better.”
By way of illustration, consider a nuclear explosion. The bomb that devastated Hiroshima had a core of uranium of about 141 pounds. However, it had the same explosive force of approximately 30 million pounds of TNT. Just because it’s small does not mean it lacks power.
Which is worth more: a five-hundred dollar diamond ring, or a five-hundred dollar car? I’m sure that my wife would much prefer the diamond ring over the car. The car is bigger but that does not mean it is better.
Okay, enough of the pragmatic realities of the “bigger is better” mentality. Let me wax spiritual for just a moment.
I attended a church many years ago that had a “prayer chain” ministry. Before you go ballistic on me, I’m not against prayer chains. In fact, I am very glad that the people of God want to connect their lives together in prayer. Anyway, I was confronted by someone looking to put something “on the prayer chain.” I encouraged that person and offered to pray with her but she insisted that the more people praying the better. I asked her, “why?” Her answer: “Because God will be able to hear it if more people are praying!”
Does God have a quota? Is there a minimal requirement of praying people? Can you imagine the Father in heaven saying, “If only they could get thirty people praying for this, then I would answer?”
The attitude of the small church is not unlike the attitude of the woman wanting the prayer chain: that the more people involved, the more God will respond. Surely, then, God is magnanimous to those “mega” churches who have thousands in attendance every week and He must be equally minimalistic to the church of ten. To quote Paul, “God forbid!”
In the sight of heaven there are no small churches! Every born-again body of believers who has Christ Jesus as the Head and the Word as the source for faith and life has the same power as any other gathering of God’s people. There are no small churches because there is no small God.
Think about it like this. One widow’s offering was worth more than all the offerings of the wealthy combined. It took one man’s stone to kill a giant. It took one boy’s lunch to feed a multitude. It took one man’s prayer to bring a drought. It took only twelve men to change the world. So, “small church” what are you doing?
Jonathan and his armor bearer defeated the Philistines. Consider Jonathan’s words: “Come, let’s go over to the outpost of those uncircumcised fellows. Perhaps the LORD will act in our behalf. Nothing can hinder the LORD from saving, whether by many or by few.” (1 Samuel 14:6).
There are no small churches, but there is small-mindedness.
The moment you say that God’s plan is impossible is the moment you have shrunk in your thinking. Every church, whether large or small, is called by God to accomplish His purpose in the community He placed them. However, to look out over the field of work and the little resources available, might bring a sense of distress and a feeling that you’re just too small to handle the task.
This same thing happened to the people of Israel. As they prepared to cross into the Promised Land, twelve spies returned and ten had developed a small-minded point of view.
But the men who had gone up with him said, “We can’t attack those people; they are stronger than we are.” And they spread among the Israelites a bad report about the land they had explored. They said, “The land we explored devours those living in it. All the people we saw there are of great size. We saw the Nephilim there (the descendants of Anak come from the Nephilim). We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them.” – Numbers 13:31-33
Don’t let yourself be lulled into a sense that you cannot accomplish the work of God simply because you’re small. God is not hindered by the size of a church’s budget or the number of participants. The only thing that will keep you from accomplishing God’s task is an unwillingness to trust Him.
To wrap this up, let’s hear it from our Lord Jesus:
To the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: These are the words of him who is holy and true, who holds the key of David. What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open. I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name. – Revelation 3:7-8
There are no small churches.
©2011 - Rev. Michael Duncan - used with express permission of the author.