Small churches certainly come with their challenges. Funds may not be available to achieve certain visions, there is a smaller pool of people to pull volunteers from, less space is available, and people are often stretched across ministries. While these are certainly very real struggles, small churches have a lot to offer.
This is no way intended to arouse a small church vs. large church debate. Each environment has its pros and cons, and it’s up to the individual to decide where to settle down. However, since I call a small church my home, I’d like to highlight some of my favorite things about ministry in a small church.
Getting to Know People
There are fewer people to know, but the relational atmosphere is something special.
This is definitely one of the best parts of a small church. Of course, there are fewer people to know, but the relational atmosphere is something special. I can chat with parents face to face, take kids out for ice cream, interact personally with my volunteer team, and spend a good portion of time with the majority of the kids in my ministry. I love getting to know each one of them personally, and I couldn’t imagine not being able to call each one by name.
We recently had the area we hold children’s church redone with a new carpet and paint. For two Sundays, we could not hold our service in that room. For one of the Sundays, we had already planned a full family worship service so that was not an issue. For the other, a decision had to be made only a few days before about what we would do. Having a smaller ministry, we were able to bring the children into the sanctuary for the beginning of the service and then move them over to the church parsonage for the remainder of the time. Because we have a smaller group, I believe it is easier for us to join in with the adults and move to a new location on a short notice.
On a side note, the kids quite enjoyed being in the “house” as they call it and asked when we could go back.
Relationship with Other Staff
It’s both a miniature family and a support system, which is something truly special.
Due to having a small staff, we all spend quite a bit of time together and our relationships extend beyond work and ministry. We offer each other our help when one of us has two much on our plates, bounce ideas off each other, and sit down to lunch with one another (usually). It’s both a miniature family and a support system, which is something truly special.
While being stretched across ministries can be a problem (i. e. burnout), when it’s done with care, it can be a great opportunity for growth.
While being stretched across ministries can be a problem (i. e. burnout), when it’s done with care, it can be a great opportunity for growth. For years I have had the opportunity to volunteer in the youth group. Teenagers are not my specialty. While this used to be way out of my comfort zone at first, I love being around them and enjoy the relationships I’ve built. It also affords me the opportunity to smooth the transition of 6th graders from kids ministry to youth.
I’ve also been able to develop several skills in the small church setting. In a larger church, several different people might be dedicated to performing these tasks, and I would not have learned the skills. I’ve improved in graphic design by creating promotional posters, learned to edit videos, advertised on social media, updated the church website, and learned how to use some A/V equipment, which was totally foreign to me a few years ago. I would say I have unintentionally created quite the portfolio!
The Support and Involvement of the Rest of the Congregation
While not everyone may be suited for or want to be involved in children’s ministry, I know that I have the support of many of them. On Family Worship Sundays, if I have some children without parents present, I know where I can find several people who would be willing to have a child sit with them. I can work together with the head usher and head greeter to give kids the opportunity to usher and greet in the sanctuary. The kids are visible to the rest of the congregation, and its easier to keep them informed about what we do.
We are currently in the middle of March Missions Madness with the Boys and Girls Missionary Challenge (BGMC), and it’s easy for me to pull all the children on stage to make an announcement and collect change from the congregation. Some members look forward to this time and purposely set their change aside. They know all about the effort the children are making to raise money for missions and want to be involved. That’s something I am grateful for.
Large churches truly do some amazing things with the funds that they have that a smaller church would never be able to do. For example, we don’t have the funds to put on a Royal Family Kids Camp (If you don’t know what Royal Family is, please check them out!), but we can support a larger church nearby that does by sending volunteers. Both small churches and large churches have a place in furthering God’s kingdom.
Building relationships doesn’t take a large budget. All it takes is some time and a lot of love.
It’s been easy for me to be slightly envious of the materials that larger churches have access to. It’d be nice to have a dedicated space for each ministry that doesn’t have to be shared, it’d be fun to have the lights and amazing set pieces, and it’d be great to be able to hold large outreaches. However, I’ve realized that I don’t need all that. I have access to the greatest ministry opportunity of all time: relationships. Building relationships doesn’t take a large budget. All it takes is some time and a lot of love.
Many of these things are certainly possible in a large church. Relationships can certainly be built. But in my opinion, relationships are where the charm of a small church lies.