Tuesday, August 12, 2008

"The Beauty of the Small Church"

As pastor of a relatively small church, I look forward to reading as much as I can about the nuances and peculiarities of small church life. I'm thankful to Les Puryear for putting together a 30 page booklet entitled The Beauty of the Small Church. In this booklet, Les describes various aspects of churches whose average attendance is less than 200.

One of Les' main points, with which I whole-heartedly agree, is that the small church is not broken. There is nothing wrong with a church just because it has 100 in attendance. Related to this, a church of 500 is not automatically better than a church of 50.

What is most interesting for me is that Les describes very closely what I am now experiencing. For example, family is very important in the small church. This is certainly the case at Chevis Oaks Baptist Church. Certain traditions are also important at Chevis; Les talks about this in his booklet. In fact, I've run into very little that Les did not describe.

One other bit of information that Les spelled out is that the vast majority of Southern Baptist churches are small churches. This booklet shows that over 25,000 of the roughly 40,000 Southern Baptist churches average less than 100 in primary worship service attendance. Another 8,300 average less than 200. Meanwhile, less than 2 percent of Southern Baptist churches have over 1,000 in attendance.

Despite these numbers, Southern Baptist denominational leadership is always dominated by pastors of mega-churches and prominent figures from Southern Baptist seminaries. A primary example is that in June Dr. Johnny Hunt was elected as the latest SBC president. He is also pastor of the large First Baptist Church of Woodstock (GA). This is life as it is within the SBC.

Getting back to the topic, if you are a member of a small church, regardless of denomination, this booklet would be helpful to have. If you are a pastor of a small church, it would be a great benefit.

If you want to order copies of this booklet, e-mail Les at lespuryear@hotmail.com with the quantity of booklets you need.

Les, thanks for writing this booklet. I look forward to handing it out to our church members at Chevis Oaks.

4 comments:

Les Puryear said...

Eric,

Thank you for your very kind post. I pray that your church will be encouraged.

Les

Eric said...

Les,

Thanks again.

Eric

RHEA said...

Eric:

I really appreciate this post. I've always wondered why so many ppl seem to think that a congregation of 1,000 is somehow inherently better than ten congregations of 100. I've chalked it up to this western mentality of "bigger is better," though I can honestly find no biblical basis for that.

Eric said...

Rhea,

I agree that the "bigger is better" mentality affects even how we view church. Small churches do have some advantages, which Les discusses in this booklet.