On Sunday Chad and I left our small town and traveled to a slightly smaller town about 35 miles away. These little places are out in parts of the state of Texas where few people go unless they’re passing through to someplace larger. Yet, our towns are filled with a few thousand souls who need Jesus.
We are used to being considered less important in the world of ministry, considering how metropolitan areas are teeming with so many people. In the face of some sense of indifference toward smaller places, I would ask this: if a shopping mall that contained 2,000 men, women and children were on fire, would anyone suggest that it isn’t important to do something about it? People in small towns need rescue. They need a Savior. They need faithful pastors and gospel-teaching churches.
Chad and I drove out to a tiny church to help kick off revival services. Chad is preaching and leading worship this week, and we sang together there in their lovely small sanctuary, standing in the aisle with no microphones. A dozen congregants sat scattered around the room, warm and smiling as we sang. Their devoted pastor sat among them, encouraging us with his heartfelt worship. After the service was over, almost everyone present went to eat barbecue, where we shared stories and enjoyed the camaraderie that believers experience when we’re together.
This church will soon be celebrating 75 years of faithfulness to God. Though they are small, they seek to impact their community for Christ, so they recently started a clothes closet to help those in need. They are committed to giving so that they can honor God in paying their pastor and keeping their doors open. They are praying for revival in their own hearts so that the hope of Christ will rush out of their little building and fill the streets like a flood. God’s goodness resides in this small church. His faithfulness shows. His life-changing power is evident.
The pastor stood to pray, and he asked for a work of God, not just in his church that morning, but in the other churches in his small town. He prayed that God would work in so many ways in so many churches. While many of us in larger churches spend all of our time imagining how we can do church better with all of our resources and all of our programs, this faithful pastor of a tiny church is praying that God will move in other congregations, showing the world who He is, church by church by church.
The tiny churches have so much more to offer God than we think. Many of us would consider a church of a dozen people to be hopeless. Many would claim that they should shut the doors and go elsewhere. But I have seen the greatness of God in the small places, in the few faithful members of little churches. Why would we ever believe that He only works where there are more people? Hasn’t He proven to us over and over again that He takes the small and the weak and He demonstrates His power in this way? Sure, First Baptist Dallas with its throngs of people and its millions in the bank is capable of doing great things for God. But don’t discount what He is doing in the tiny churches with ordinary people who devote their lives to bringing Him all the glory. There is little personal glory in standing before twelve people week in and week out, preaching God’s truth with sincerity and compassion. But when God moves in that little place, no one will be able to say that it was all of the money or the gigantic buildings or the amazing resources that made it happen. In the tiny places, when God works He shines the brightest.
We will never know most of what God accomplishes in the small churches. Those stories don’t make headlines. These aren’t the pastors who are invited to speak on the platforms at the big conferences. But God knows each and every tiny congregation. He sees each faithful follower who keeps showing up and keeps finding ways to glorify Him in their own little corner of this universe. I have no doubt that when we all get to Heaven, we’ll find out pretty quickly that the smallest churches saw some of the biggest victories in God’s kingdom. “Well done,” He will say. And we will all sing together a song of His faithfulness.