Saturday, March 5, 2016

Small Churches Matter!

19. That was how many people were present on my first Sunday as pastor of Washington Baptist Church, Washington, VT, which included my family of four. The church had never been large, even back in its glory years of the 1950’s, it had never averaged more than 45 or 50 in worship. It was a small church in a rural village in a rural state in northern New England. It was easy to feel like we were so small that nothing we did really mattered.

But for the 53 people who came to faith in Christ during the eight years we served that church, it made a difference. For the missionaries and mission projects that we raised money for, nearly $100,000 from our little church during that 8 year period, it made a difference. Though the church remains small, and it has been several years since we have been to that little village, they are still faithfully making a difference in their community and across New England through their involvement in disaster relief and through managing the Calef Retreat Center.

At a recent meeting I attended at the national office of the Southern Baptist Convention in Nashville, TN, I learned that 64% of all Southern Baptist churches have less than 100 in worship. And 81.4% have less than 200 in worship. Yet the SBC remains one of the most robust missionary organizations in the world. Small churches matter. They do make a difference.

If you lead a small church, or are a member of a small church, do not feel discouraged. Do not bemoan what you cannot do, instead celebrate what you can do. Look around your community, look around the larger region where you are located, and look around the world and do something. That something, no matter how small it may seem, when empowered by the Holy Spirit and added to a lot of other small churches’ “somethings” makes a huge difference.

God is working through small churches, and that is something to celebrate!



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Dr. Terry W. Dorsett has been a pastor, church planter, denominational leader and author in New England for more than 20 years. He is a happy husband, a proud father and adoring grandfather. He is a cancer survivor and believes that God works powerfully through times of suffering. He has written a book about the spirit of offense that prevails in our current society. You can find all of his books at:

41 comments:

  1. A good word Terry.

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  2. God does BIG things in SMALL churches!

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  3. Hershel StricklandMarch 5, 2016 at 10:28 AM

    So true. But it does get lonely sometimes when you are on the field along way from home and not many people coming to church, but one person coming to Christ can make all the difference in the world. Pray for our small church pastors who are on the field, especially in new England where there are several wonderful pastors families who are doing God's work where He has planted them. A lot of my heroes are posted up there. May God bless them and their families.

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    1. We miss having you serve alongside of us in New England. God bless you.

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  4. Terry . . . Spot on as usual! . . . Thanks for being the champion of us small churches . . .

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    1. thanks Mike, happy to lift up my brothers who serve small churches so faithfully. I'm thankful for you.

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  5. Great an encouraging article! Thanks, Dr. Dorsett!

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    1. thanks for the kind comment Pastor Jim.

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  6. I did. I am amazed at the numbers. 64% under 100? I never would have guessed that.

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  7. Thank you for serving in the New England Area. God bless you and keep you safe.

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  8. Amen, Terry.

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  9. Proud to be pastor of a "tiny" church that has done quite a lot despite our size. Great things come in small packages!

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    1. David, your church has made such an impact on the streets in Burlington, Vt. God bless you, only eternity will reveal the scope of your ministry. Keep up the great work.

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  10. Preach on, brother !!!!

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  11. Did you read yesterday (actually see the video clip) of Andy Stanley saying Christians should go to a large church and they are selfish if they don't? Made my blood boil! Then I had to ask Jesus for lots of self-control so I could get other things done yesterday and not go on some rampage. Then my analytical took over and longed for an actual study of the claims he was making. Then I finally released it to Jesus as it is not my battle. Then I checked out FB today and saw your latest post. Just a day in the life of a little church pastor who is getting to see God do more than they can think or imagine. As I say, "We are lucky to be a small church because we run out of resources more quickly and get to see the Hand of God more powerfully!"

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    1. Saw it. Glad to hear he apologized. Hope it was a genuine apology.

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  12. And, let's add to that that "small" is not restricted to just established churches, nor to Southern Baptists alone. The wave in church planting is one characterized by small churches, irregardless the context(city, small town, country), served by bivocational pastors.

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    1. Thanks for the input Kenny, you are so right.

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  13. A great article... just shared it on Small Church Tools

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    1. Thanks for sharing, praying it encourages someone today.

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  14. I would be interested in hearing Andy Stanley's take on this. He had not been a fan of "small churches" in print as of late

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    1. He is doing what makes sense to him, its all he knows. But most pastors know more about small churches than he does. So listen them, not him.

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    2. I get that we are all to be trying to grow the church but I have a hard time believing he didn't know he was insulting 90% of Baptist churches in America. He ought to be grateful for those small churches- that is where a lot of his multi campus seekers are coming from!

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  15. Thank you Terry, very good and insightful. I'm going to share it on a page for other pastors to read

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    1. Thanks for sharing, let's all work together to encourage pastors.

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  16. Great article. A few years back I studied our churches and found our age size church in Utah and Idaho has 46 in worship. God uses all size of churches for His glory. I thank God for a little church in Custer, SD where the Lord transformed my life!

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  17. Encouraging article

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  18. Stanley K. SmithMarch 7, 2016 at 9:00 AM

    An encouraging reminder of the strength vitality and importance of smaller churches. Thanks Terry W. Dorsett for this good word.

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    1. Happy to encourage my brothers to continue to do good while awaiting the harvest.

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  19. Another good article! Encouraging reminder for those of us serving in small churches.

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