Small churches matter. (I argued this in a previous post.) As the embodiment of God’s kingdom in a particular area, every church, large or small, is irreplaceable.
The importance of the local church is highlighted when we consider that it was the church that God left on earth to accomplish His purposes. Jesus promised that He would build His church, and that the gates of hell would not prevail against it (Matt. 16:18). Whether you love the church that you’re a part of or not, the church is God’s strategy for building up His people and reaching out to the world. And as David Platt likes to say: God has no plan B. Either the Spirit of God works through the church to accomplish His purposes in this world, or the whole thing fails. (Obviously, God is not a God who fails.)
So if you and the Christians around you are the local embodiment of God’s kingdom—if you are the picture of the church that the people in your area see—then what you do matters.
It matters when you discourage one another. It matters when you sin against one another. It matters when you neglect, defraud, injure, speak against, or give up on one another. When you do these things, the effects are so much bigger than you might imagine. Why? Because you are the embodiment of God’s kingdom on earth.
So what on earth are you saying about God and His kingdom? How does the way you live and interact with the Christians around you reflect on God’s power, character, and desires? What does the way you reach out (or don’t reach out) to the lost world around you say about God’s heart and mission?
Sometimes we think that church is a game. It’s a service, a program, a building. But church is no game. It is no mere service, building, or program. You are an outpost of God’s kingdom. You are the local embodiment of the plan of redemption that God is working out all over the world.
You living where you live, sacrificially loving, patiently listening to, graciously bearing with the unique, very broken, very real people around you is extremely important.
So stay strong small churches! Your witness as a community of redeemed people is far too important to get caught up in the politics, gossip, and backbiting that so often characterizes small churches. Because God is going to use the church to reach the world, He cares about what your church is doing. Lives depend upon what your church is doing. And ultimately, God has placed you where you are with the purpose of revealing Himself to the community around you through the way you interact with one another.