Awhile back, I had the privilege of worshiping with a small congregation in my home town of Kansas City. Though this was not my home church, I felt like I had walked into a family gathering–a really good one–and I was immediately enveloped into their home. Songs were sang sincerely and we felt connect both to God and one another as we sang. An impressive but simple video helped show how our offerings were targeted toward the needs of the church, community, and world. Even the announcements were delivered in a way that made me want to attend everything this loving family was doing. I think more than half of those attending went out of their way to welcome me, and I was impressed with the clear love for each other that I saw on display all morning.
In fact, everything was wonderful on that Sunday, except…well, this great little church isn’t growing. Somehow the million plus people of that great city are missing what’s happening in this wonderful church family. Now, don’t think that they are failing in their efforts. Their calendar is filled with ministries and outreach moments. They are passionate about reaching people and I’m convinced they know what to do with people who need hope and help.
What’s missing? I could argue that their location is a large hindrance. Well off the beaten path, the little church sits hidden in a difficult neighborhood where only a few dozen cars might pass by in a week. If you don’t live in one of the run-down houses that surround the church, there’s really no other reason to drive by. So maybe the location is keeping this little church a secret.
Maybe its the presence of some really large churches nearby with all their amazing programs. Once you get back out to the main road, you don’t have to go far to find a menu of ministry options that a small church can’t offer. Maybe its the big church that’s keeping things small here.
Maybe its the community itself. Seems many cities have a lot of people who want help but they don’t want God. They show up when food’s available, but are less willing to munch down on some truth. Jesus ran into this too so I guess we shouldn’t be surprised when we face the same frustration.
What is it that’s keeping this small church small. I’m not sure, but as I sat with the loving couple who pastor this church with such great passion, there were only a few things I could speak into their frustration.
First, when you’re doing things well, don’t stop! Don’t allow thoughts like “this isn’t working” to turn you from the very best behaviors. Loving people, becoming a family, teaching the Bible, and compassionately reaching out to others are all valuable behaviors in a church. Don’t let a lack of growth push you toward gimmicks or fads. Keep doing the best things well–its what is making you a church people will want to attend.
Second, remember that it is God who grows His Church. While we want the Church to grow and we do everything we can to facilitate that goal, God is the real Church Builder in our midst. Keep loving, keep teaching, keep leading, keep reaching and let God turn those seeds and your watering efforts to a harvest.
The Bible reminds us to not grow weary in doing good things. We will reap a harvest if we don’t give up! So if you’ve done all you can…KEEP DOING IT!