The real movers and shakers in the evangelical world tend to belong to large churches. You’re probably not going to find a popular podcast coming out of a small church, and if you find a popular YouTube clip featuring some part of a church service, it probably came from a church with at least a few thousand members (unless your small town pastor said something horribly wrong!). Most of the great Christian books you’ll read and engaging worship songs you’ll sing come out of megachurches.
So big churches are the only churches that matter. Right?
Of course not. And I’ve never heard anyone argue against small churches. Yet I get the feeling that we tend to look to the larger churches as more important than the smaller churches.
Larger churches possess and produce resources that smaller churches couldn’t dream of. We can all be thankful for the books that David Platt is writing, the conferences that Francis Chan is speaking at, and the sermons that John Piper is preaching (for our joy and God’s glory). But at the end of the day, those things don’t make the church the church.
The church is all about God’s people coming together in grateful obedience to Christ in order to build one another up and reach out to the world around them. Challenging books and powerful sermons can help us fulfill our mission as the church, but they are not a substitute for a community of redeemed people living out God’s purposes in their part of the world.
The kingdom of God is all about God’s will being done on earth as it is in heaven (Matt. 6:10). Of course, we are waiting for Christ’s return when this will be fully realized. But we do see God’s will being done on earth at times and to degrees at various places around the world. The kingdom is formed on earth everywhere that the church exists; everywhere that God’s grace has broken into human lives and transformed them; everywhere that God has formed a close-knit community out of people who have no reason to join together aside from the grace of God. We see a glimpse of the kingdom everywhere that a group of people is moved by God to sacrifice their time, comfort, and resources in an attempt to bless the world around them.
Every church—regardless of its size—serves as an outpost of the kingdom of God. Every time you drive past a Christ-centered church, you are passing a road sign for the presence of God in this world. Every time you encounter a pocket of Christians living life together for Christ’s sake, you are coming face to face with a reminder of the possibility of healing. Every God-honoring church is a picture of the world as it will be, an embodiment of God’s ability to transform lives.
So stay strong, small churches! You matter! Every time you love one another, speak truth to one another, bear one another’s burdens, encourage one another, lovingly confront one another, provide for one another, you are showing God and His purposes to the world in a way that can’t be ignored. You may not be writing best-selling books or chart-topping worship songs, but as long as you are loving one another and reaching out to the world around you, you are absolutely irreplaceable. God’s purposes for your area won’t be accomplished with books, videos, or sermon mp3s. Your church exists for a purpose. The way your church interacts and reaches out is of the utmost importance.