Sound Teaching

This is the teaching site of the West Side church of Christ in Fort Worth, TX. Unless otherwise indicated, all materials were written and prepared by Stan Cox

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The Benefits of a Small Church

ImageWhen I moved to Fort Worth from Odessa in 1989, I remember one of the members here asking me if I was used to preaching for such a small church. I assured them that “small” is relative. I grew up in a congregation that numbered about 30-40 for Sunday morning worship. I cut my teeth preaching for a group in Monahans that would have 15 present on a good day. So, West Side seemed to me to be a big church!

Regardless, there is a big difference between a congregation of 100 and a congregation of 200-300 or more. While many would advocate that bigger is better, I would assert that there are actually some benefits to being a member of a small congregation.

For example, in a small church there is often a greater sense of family. Often in larger congregations there will be people who do not even know one another. If you don’t know everyone in a congregation the size of West Side, it indicates a lack of involvement on your part. We are given the admonition as Christians to “love the brethren” (cf. 1 John 3:14). Paul admonished the Corinthians because of a lack of deference and concern for one another. Notice the situation as described by the apostle, “Now in giving these instructions I do not praise you, since you come together not for the better but for the worse. For first of all, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you, and in part I believe it” (1 Corinthians 11:17-18). There is a great sense of family here at West Side, and for that I am thankful. I pray that it extends to all who are members here. These feelings can be strengthened if we all seek such in love and humility.

In a small church there is often more of an opportunity for service, and spiritual growth. There are always men and women ready to teach, and men ready to serve publicly in worship. When a congregation is large, however, many seldom have an opportunity to serve publicly. Since the pool of available members is smaller, it is more likely that a disciple will be used in a small congregation. It is also true that such a one will be missed if they are not present to help. This puts a greater onus on the individual to be diligent in attendance, preparation and punctuality. It is disappointing to have individuals who have the talent and willingness to serve, but who are not dependable because of their lack of punctuality or attendance. Here at West Side we need men and women to teach the Bible classes, and we need our men to assist the deacons in worship preparation by being present and early to the services.

While it can be a wonderful experience to be a part of a small congregation, it certainly is not appropriate for us to be stagnant in our duty to the Lord. We should always be desirous of growth as a congregation of Christians. Smallness is not intrinsically virtuous. Many congregations remain small simply because of a lack of effort. In fact, there is often an increased opportunity to grow in the small congregation. Individual Christians are allowed the opportunity to teach and participate, and in so doing improve their Bible knowledge. Such competence encourages confidence to share that knowledge with the lost to the salvation of souls.

Each Christian should have a sense of duty to the work done in a small congregation. There is the greater opportunity for the individual, and a commensurate greater need for his involvement. When you are a member of a small congregation, you can’t sit around and expect the work to be done. You must have a part in doing it yourself!

That personal responsibility is revealed by Jesus in John 15:1-2. “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.”

As members of a small congregation, we must utilize our assets to growth. If we all do our part, growth is inevitable. We will each grow spiritually, and as a result of our efforts, souls will be saved.

The alternative to this is stagnation. A small congregation can’t afford to stagnate, as it can result in atrophy, or even death. So, brethren, let each of us get to work!