By Mark A. Taylor
Healthy churches come in all sizes! Many smaller churches today attract a third or more of their community to weekly services. Sometimes the greatest missions giving or most successful ministry recruiting happens in churches with weekly worship averages below 200. And many leaders of today’s megachurches grew up in small churches.
We know there are far more smaller than larger churches. In fact, researcher George Barna says the average congregation in America welcomes fewer than 90 adults to Sunday morning worship.
Yet in spite of their number and their invaluable contribution to the fabric of our everyday life, smaller churches sometimes feel ignored. In our “big is better” world, megachurches and their leaders seem to get most of the attention.
But now that’s changing.
A new group, Energizing Smaller Churches Network (ESCN) has two purposes: to highlight the value of smaller churches, and to cast new vision for the ministry of smaller churches.
One way they’ll achieve this is through four conferences this year. “Healthy Churches Come in All Sizes” is the theme for the two day events; each will meet on a Christian college campus:
April 21, 22: Ozark Christian College, Joplin, Missouri
April 28, 29: Cincinnati (Ohio) Christian University
September 8, 9: Lincoln (Illinois) Christian College and Seminary
September 29, 30: Johnson Bible College, Knoxville, Tennessee
Headline speakers for all four events include leaders and friends of smaller churches:
• Tom Claibourne has served with the Bethlehem Church of Christ in rural Winchester, Ohio, since 1979.
• Richard Crabtree has ministered in rural and small-town settings for 30 years, including his current ministry at Odon (Indiana) First Christian Church, which averages more than 400 in a community of 1,200.
• Ben Merold is known for at least two things: he leads megachurches, and he loves smaller churches. Small-church leaders love him too, because his practical advice for growing a church works in every situation.
• Wayne Smith is one of the most sought-after encouragers in our fellowship. His message at the conference closing luncheons will send everyone home smiling and ready to work.
The conference also features worship, question-and-answer times, roundtable discussions, and workshop sessions conducted by local leaders of smaller churches.
Standard Publishing is pleased to help sponsor these four events because we want to encourage the vital ministry of smaller churches. We hope to see hundreds of smaller-church leaders who will attend at least one of these four conferences.