By Thomas Dean, Minister of Stenhouse Baptist Church
One of the advantages of being small is that it should mean that you are more flexible and agile than if you were massive. You stick an oar in the ocean and you can change direction just like that, it shouldn’t take 24 hours to turn the tanker round! However, how many of us know that it doesn’t matter whether there are 6 or 600 of you there are some things that churches are very tied to…
At SBC we’ve benefited from the ability to stop things that aren’t ‘producing fruit’, as painful as that still is, and try to ruthlessly pour our energy into mission and discipling one another. We don’t meet on Sunday evenings any more, but we do have a Messy Church that we run with the local Episcopalian church. We started our youth work in a living room, stopped completely when we outgrew it, and then restarted something entirely different later. In a world uprooted with widespread change, we are already familiar with how that feels in our church. Our mission is mission. I remember a mentor of mine saying ‘what’s the point in planting a church if you don’t see lives transformed?’. While that could’ve sounded like unhelpful pressure, for me, that was a reminder of our purpose.
Small churches can feel very exposed, especially in our online arena of constant comparison. What if friends visit and there’s only 8 people at 10.59 on a Sunday morning? Is it time to give up? So far, we’ve tried to stick to what we felt called to do. Move into the neighbourhood, love our neighbours well, see what God is already doing in the community and get stuck in. Success is about faithfulness to Christ and what He has placed on our hearts. Not what other people might prioritise.
As a wee church that is growing, we punch above our weight in terms of activity, I’m so grateful we have a fantastic leadership who constantly call us back to prayer. There have been times where we’ve had successful events and the building has been full, but I’ve known we’ve been prayerless and have approached it all from the wrong direction. In the middle of lockdown, where we all feel powerless, I hope we all take the opportunity to return to intercession and trusting in Jesus alone for fruitfulness.