A Small Church Welcome

Dan Kimball: “The size of your church does not mean God is not using you.”

My life was changed by the pastor of a 20-person church in London. That small church is where I was first mentored and developed as a disciple of Jesus, so I’m appreciative of the small church. Even though that church was small, I know they never stopped praying for new people to come to Jesus through them. They were small, with a very large missional heart.

In fact, I found that congregation by a simple sandwich board sign on the sidewalk in front of the church. It read, “Bible Study Inside Today 12:00 p.m. Everyone welcome!” It was a time when I was searching and had even bought a small Bible. I saw the sign and thought, “I have a Bible. I wonder what’s in there.” So I opened the door and peeked in to see three elderly people sitting in a circle. I wanted to say, “Oops! Sorry, wrong building,” and leave. But the pastor, who was 82 years old, looked up with a twinkle-eyed glance and asked, “Here for the study?” and I couldn’t say no. So I sat down, without them judging me for my hair, my clothing or my punk band lifestyle. They took me into their small church community and my life was changed as a result.

I remember vividly how even though it was a small church, they never stopped talking about people who didn’t know Jesus. They didn’t have the attitude of being more special as a small church, as if they were serious about discipleship and the larger churches weren’t. They prayed all the time for those who didn’t know Jesus. And even with a very simple handmade sign, they made an effort to invite new people in. I believe their prayers were answered as God brought a young punk musician into their midst, whom God changed through this small church.

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The size of your church does not mean God is not using you. For one, you have the people God has brought to you to shepherd, teach and disciple. You also have the holy privilege of instilling in them a passion for reaching others who don’t know Jesus—like that small church in London that was so focused on praying and doing whatever they could to see one person know Jesus. I hope that none of you ever forgets that. Are you teaching your church to represent Jesus well in their world and to pray for those who don’t know Jesus yet? You may not see dozens or hundreds coming to know Jesus—over many years that church in London only saw one. But that one was me, and I am so thankful that small church did not turn inward.

I have known some small churches that became more focused on themselves than they were on their mission to the world around them. I would ask any small church leader to do a little self-check to make sure you haven’t shifted to an inward-focus versus an outward-focus on mission. Remember, you may not see anyone come to faith in Jesus for years and years. But maybe God has that one person he may one day bring into your small church. Are you passionately praying for that person now?