Please read the following two passages of Scripture carefully, and reason for yourself what they have to say about the small church.
“Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” (Matthew 16:13-19, ESV)
“To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God, who created all things, so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him. So I ask you not to lose heart over what I am suffering for you, which is your glory. (Ephesians 3:8-13, ESV)
That first passages teaches that Jesus was going to build His church on the truth that He was the Son of God, and that foundation was solid as a rock; and not even the gates of hell would stop Him. While the second passage says that through that church the manifold wisdom of God would be made known to the world. I still believe those two truths, and that every church that is seeking after God, and seeking to be what God wants it to be, those two truths are still true!
A church does not have to be big, for those truths to be true!
A church does not have to be small, for those truth to be true!
A church does not have to have a mission statement, for those truth to be true!
A church does not have to have great singing, or a praise team, for those truths to be true!
A church does not need suits and dresses, for those truths to be true!
A church does not need to dress casually, for those truths to be true!
A church does not need a website, for those truths to be true!
A church does not even need a building, for those truths to be true!
A church does not even need a preacher, for those truths to be true!
THEY ARE TRUE, BECAUSE GOD SAID THEY WERE TRUE!
Generally speaking, we have a hard time accepting those concepts to be right, because we have a whole bunch of preconceived ideas about what it takes for a church to successful – to be effective, to be great, and to be what God wants it to be. If you preach for a small church, or just attend a small church; you have this little voice in the back of your mind, telling you, or your church, cannot be great – because you’re small. We know that is true, because no one ever makes a list of the “10 Greatest Small Churches in America”. You never hear anyone use the words “great” and “small” in the same sentence, when they are talking about a church.
What I want to do in this blog entry, is try and convince you to change your emphasis about what it takes to be a great church. To change that emphasis from numbers, to HEALTHY. Please understand, I am not saying that small churches don’t want more people, they do. What I we need to recognize, in my opinion, is that numbers are not the measuring stick! Do you remember our last, where we talked about “Bigger does not always mean better.” There are big churches that are unhealthy, just as there are small churches that are unhealthy. There are healthy small churches, and big churches that are healthy. You see, numbers do not decide if a church is healthy. Philadelphia was a healthy church, even though they had little power (Revelation 3:7-12).
What I want to do, is give you the three essentials elements of a healthy church.
- It is a church with people who are madly in love with God through Jesus — Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. (Matthew 22:37-38)
- It is a church where the people genuinely love each other — A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35)
- It is a church that makes disciples — Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20)
I’m not going to go into a lot of depth on those three passages, although I could. In my mind, those three passages lay out the structure of a healthy church. A healthy church could have a 100 people, or it could have a 1000 people. It is the actions and attitude of those people that determine the health of the church – not how many of them there are!