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!
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: