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9Marks Explained : A Letter From Mark Dever

The Bane of the Small Medium-Sized Church

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Our church is not big (speaking in terms of attendance and membership). I’d say that it’s small for a medium-sized church. But it’s growing, and attendance is certainly up from the 10 people who were here when I became the pastor. And what I’ve experienced is that as the church grows, more and more people find that it’s difficult to build relationships and get to know people in the congregation.

Now, in a weird way, I think this might be the particular bane of the medium-sized church. In a small church, it’s usually pretty easy to get to know most of the people. In a large church, people come in the door already knowing that they’re not going to get to know everyone. But in the medium-sized church, you’ve got some of the expectations of a small church alongside some of the challenges of size.

But as I’ve been thinking about this problem in our church, here’s what I’ve noticed: people who show up a lot usually aren’t lonely and disconnected. So for example: our church has a Sunday morning gathering, a Sunday evening gathering, small groups through the week, a fellowship meal once a month, a one-to-one Bible reading program, monthly men’s and women’s meetings, and a bunch of different community outreach and mercy ministries that are run by church members. Those are a lot of opportunities to connect with other people in the church. And in my observation, people who avail themselves of those opportunities almost always feel connected to others in the congregation. People who don’t show up for things, however, usually don’t feel as connected.

So it may sound a little old school (as in Hebrews 10:24-25), but there’s something to be said for the guy who wins the perfect attendance award. If you’re feeling like your church doesn’t have enough community, make sure that you’re plugging in to the opportunities that are offered. And don’t wait for someone to approach you, give them a call and invite them over for lunch after the Sunday gathering.

Topics: Fellowship

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Great post Mike! We are a small church, but I still feel that tension. A bit off subject, but what kind of structure did you give to your one-to-one Bible reading program? Just finished David Helm's book. Wondering what kind of structure to put to that, if any. Thanks for your ministry!

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