Keith White

Advantages of a Small Church

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I just hung up the phone with a close friend of mine. The sound of his voice was heartbreaking. For the past few months he had been dealing with health issues of his own and others have had to care for him. Now he was facing serious health issues with his mom. Her kidneys were starting to fail and with her condition and age, he was confident that she would not be open to the idea of dialysis.

It would only be a matter of time before my close friend and one of my mentors in life would lose his mom. In a short period of time, she would be as he put it,  in a much better place. That is probably the only good thing about this entire situation but it wont erase the heartache of losing a parent.

I cannot imagine what he is going through. The pain of losing one that you had been close to, who had cared for you, who had loved you unconditionally throughout your entire life, would be almost too much to bear alone.

Thankfully, we are not alone. Christ and the Holy Spirit living in us and working through others gives us hope. They are our comforter in the storms of life. They will bring others around us to love on us during these times.

So, me being the fixer that I am, asked a question that I was shocked to hear the answer to. I asked a simple question of had he let those, who I am also friends with, at his church know about his situation. (My friend goes to a very large church that I once attended when it was much smaller. ) The sound of his voice, his answer, just broke my heart. He had let his church know about his own health issues and had not gotten a response. Why would he tell them about this? He went on to explain that this was one of the drawbacks to being part of a large church. Don’t get me wrong, he goes to a great church with a very successful pastor and staff but is this an acceptable response?

Seriously? Have churches gotten so large that they have become more concerned about the next program, the budget, staff meetings, etc. and have lost their ability to see who in their flock is hurting? This is a HUGE failure. Yes my friend is wrong for not letting them know and yes he is wrong for holding a grudge but are we to believe that for one minute that a church of any size, cannot minister to its member at a time of grief and loss?

I grew up in a small church. I was baptized at a church that I don’t remember it ever having an attendance of over 200. Later, I went to another small church that rarely ever runs over 100. That’s not a bad thing you see as everyone there, is family. Everyone there knows when someone is hurting, or grieving over a loss. Each time we go home and visit this church, people there know us, love us, and greet us by name. Sure they don’t have the light show, the movies to go along with the sermon or some of the other resources that large churches have. They don’t have an orchestra or even a praise band. They have something that a large church may be missing. A sense of belonging to something bigger than they are and a ministry of caring for those around them.

I love my church. I love my church not because I am staff there but because my church loves me and Stephanie. When a parent comes up to you and says “we are so glad you are here and what you are doing” that shows me that they care about us, even when I don’t teach their kids. We are noticed.

The next time that you are with your church family, regardless of your church size, look around. Notice who isn’t there. Write their name down. Call them. Don’t email them or send them a message on Facebook, but call them. Let them know they were missed. Check on them. Make sure life hasn’t kicked them in the teeth.

Be Christ to them.

‘After all, when life gets us down, we want someone to do that for us, right?

Dear God,

Thank you for my church family. They love us unconditionally. They minister to us, pray for us, and notice us. Help us to know when those around us are hurting and need someone just to come along beside them and let them know that someone cares. Help us to be the Light of Christ to a hurting world. Help me to notice others.

Keith

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