The “Small” Church: Beloved, Beautiful, and Significant

The “Small” Church: Beloved, Beautiful, and Significant

Feb 21, 2014

The “Small” Church: Beloved, Beautiful, and Significant

by Pastor Luis Lovelace, Metro Atlanta SDB Church


The “small church” is the body of Christ in compact form. She is just as valuable as a group of larger size, and just as subject to the work of God upon them, and through them, for His glory.

The small church resembles a family in many ways and has some important benefits. There is the opportunity for closeness, sharing in expressions of love, developing a bond and identity with each other, and experiencing the joy of serving God together. What wonderful blessings! This experience of fellowship and ministry is, of course, not limited to the small church, but the opportunity for it seems to be attained more easily.

Getting to know you

A small group affords the opportunity to get to know each other more personally. Getting to know others—and opening our own lives as well—is always easier in a “safe” environment, where life is lived together. Seeing each other during our times of laughter, tears, frustration and even boredom brings the chance to share, and grow.

This “exposure” before others can also have the effect of shaping us, and by the ministry of the Holy Spirit, we grow in Christ toward maturity. This dynamic is why I believe many larger churches form small group programs in the desire to effectively minister and nurture their membership. Imagine that, a “mega church”—the dream of many small church pastors—organizing to utilize the qualities of the small group in order to be more effective.

Good and pleasant, or getting too close?

As the psalmist says, “Behold how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell together in unity!” (Ps. 133:1).  However, when church folk don’t “dwell together in unity” the results are always troubling and painful.

Believers in any size church must guard against internal problems, but the small church in particular must be careful. Certain attitudes and actions, if allowed to get established, can damage or destroy the loving environment very quickly and change it to one controlled by faithlessness and fear. Following are a few of what I see as dangers to the health of the church:

Rebellion in the hearts of God’s people.

It may appear in many different attitudes and actions, but at the root is the will of the flesh—which wars against the Spirit and is an affront to the work of God. Gossip, dissension, division, pride, unforgiveness, and lack of repentance are a few of the manifestations of this destroyer that can contaminate the flock.

No vision for God’s work in bringing others to the fellowship.

We can get too comfortable with “the family” and view “outsiders” as intruders. Having no concern for the unsaved (and/or being too disorganized to have effective outreach) can lead to an “ingrown” condition which is a form of spiritual “salt” that has lost its saltiness.

The controlling attitude of an individual.

A church matriarch, patriarch, or church leader claiming sole authority over the direction of the church can change the environment from “our church” to a self-serving “my church,” or a church for just a few. The reality that Jesus is the ultimate Pastor of the church, and that the church is to organize in serving His purposes is easily lost.

Dismissing the potential for ministry.

Having a “we-are-too-small” mentality is a destructive mindset based in unbelief. Being realistic with limitations in available people, resources and finances should lead the small church to seek the power and provision of God with greater zeal, with a longing to be faithful to His purpose and mission.

We can certainly include more dangers to the health of the small church (or any fellowship of believers), but it is important to remember that while we are “prone to wander” in our life and service to God, He is faithful to discipline those whom He loves.


03 Bride and groom statue CLR


Do we resemble the Bride?

The “small” church is a group of the redeemed of God. They should covenant together and put all trust in the power of Christ at work in them to accomplish the will of God in this world—with the pleasure of serving Him.

The local church (“large” or “small”) is not to be measured by the number of members, but by how much she resembles the Bride of Christ. And to Him she is beloved, beautiful, and significant.

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