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I am the Pastor/Teacher of Rivers of Joy Baptist Church in Minford, Ohio since August 2008.  I am married to Charity since June 14, 1969.  I have four grown children.   Having served in the local church for over forty years as Pastor/Teacher, Asso., Youth Pastor, Minister of Education, Building Upkeep, Camp Director, Sunday School Teacher, etc. Also I have worked in the public place for as many years as I have preached. Charity and her sister are co owner of Union Mills Conf. (Bakery) in West Portsmouth Ohio

The Dynamics of Small Church Ministry
Part Four Two of Five

In smaller churches the whole membership is asked to voice their opinion and vote on every issue, have you noticed? In the larger churches, there is no way that can happen on every issue that comes up. One church I pastored they voted to see how far they wanted the Church Van to be driven on any youth activity. The first of each month was a church business meeting and each member could voice his request and it could be voted on. ."I think church should start at 10:45 a.m. And since it was a "member in good standing" it was voted to start at 10:45 a.m. or was it 6:00 p.m..? That would never happen in a larger church. At FBC in Hammond there was a business meeting, but any decision was quickly passed by the deacons.

Why all the complexity in the different size churches:

The larger the church, the less members have in common. The larger the church the greater number of families, different backgrounds, and ideas. In a smaller church you have small groups and they seem to all know each other. They all know each other when they come into Union Mills to buy a wonderful tasting apple pie made by my wife Charity. She also knows those members who come into the bakery. In a larger church you really don’t stop to think if one family or two families will disagree with the mission of the church, in a smaller church you always ask that question.

Thus, in smaller churches policy is decided by many, and ministry is done by a few. In larger churches ministry is done by many, and policy is decided by a few.

In a smaller church, everybody thinks they have a say in what the policy is going to be. In a larger church they know they have little voice in the policy of the church.

In smaller churches communicating could usually be done by word of mouth and it would be okay, not in a larger church. Smaller churches like it that way. The friendly church, you know. In a larger church you could go for a year and never know who is sitting beside you in worship. Of course that could happen in a smaller church too, but not often. It did happen at Bigelow. Charity and I did not realize who this couple was, but they knew us.

If some outsider comes to a small church, and the musicians are mediocre in quality, it will generally distract from the worship. But also in a smaller church, since you know the musician and you love that person, you just overlook the lack of giftedness. We were blessed at FBC in Altoona to have two very gifted pianists.. The problem was not the musicians, it was the preacher in our church!.

Here is a new thought: Smaller churches do not change speedily. They experience less turnover. Same old members in the church since 1939, you know. And they feel powerful and essential and important, so they don’t leave the church. And the leadership will say, what does old member 1939 think about us having an AWANA Club? That would never happen in a larger church.

Also in a smaller church the leadership (one) and maybe several deacons, don’t want to lose members. And they will allow these individual to control the majority. One person can control what the rest of the church would like to do, but he is a good giver, so they will not do what is best for the many. Once at FBC, the deacon said, "Mrs. Dennison will not want to give up her old pew, she has been in that bench since 1959." In view of getting new pews, they didn’t want to hurt her feelings. They would not have voted to get new pews if Mrs. Dennison didn’t want them. That would never have happen at Mansfield or Calvary Baptist. Thank goodness. And it didn’t happen at FBC either, because Mrs. Dennison purchased the first new pew!.

Have you noticed too, that in larger churches, a few make the decisions and there are more in ministry; and in a smaller church, the many are making the decisions and few are working.

The smaller the church the more the members want to control the church. To be a member of a small church is to be a voting member. To be in a larger church, membership doesn’t mean your single vote is all that important.

Everybody wants to have a word about every decision. The leadership is concerned that every member won’t like the decision made, but they don’t want conflict by the powerful few.
I missed this principle altogether. I often offended everybody. In that way, I wouldn’t just try to please the few. But I don’t recommend this in most churches. Because it only worked in one of four churches.

In smaller churches the members think the pastor should open the church door for services and stay until the service is over and lock the door on his way out. Or the pastor thinks he needs to turn the lights on and check the air conditioning. In a larger church that would never happen. Praise the Lord.


Drafted by Charles E. Whisnant December 09 2006 Proofread by Charity Whisnant