Tag Archives: community

8+ Ways Small Churches Could Be Better than Mega-Churches

The Survey

In a recent study conducted by the survey pro’s at TheRecoveringLegalist.com, pastors from both large and small congregations shared why they thought a small church could be better than a big one.

The survey sample was made up of pastors from various denominations, from different parts of the country, and consisted of men from my personal contact list – and my wife.

It was a VERY scientific survey – sorta.

The Question

I had my own thoughts, but I wanted to know what other pastors thought. The question I posed went something like this:

“I’m doing a quick, non-scientific survey for a blog post (no names will be mentioned). Can you give me 1 or 2 reasons why a small church could be better than a big church?”

Within moments I received multiple replies through text, email, and Messenger. It took them very little time to respond, like it was something they didn’t even have to think about.

The answers they gave were practically the same.

The Answers

If the answers from the pastors in the survey I conducted mean anything, it would seem that smaller churches are the place to be if you want to be:

  1. Known by name;
  2. Have intimate relationships with others;
  3. Have a pastor who misses you when you’re not there; and/or
  4. Experience more accountability.

Other answers suggested that in larger churches it is harder to keep track of what is being taught in “small groups,” while in smaller churches everyone is more on the same page. But overall, the most common reason given for smaller churches being better than bigger churches was knowing and being known by others in the congregation.

As a matter of fact, what the pastors in my survey said echoed the hopeful and encouraging words of Karl Vaters’ article “Why Small Churches Are the Next Big Thing.” Speaking of Millennials, he said:

“[There’s] growing evidence this new generation will bring the greatest opportunity for small church ministry in 2,000 years.

Why? Because, as the first generation with a majority born and raised outside traditional marriage, genuine relationships and intimate worshipwhat small churches do best—will matter more to them than it did to their parents.” [emphasis added]

(Note: The above article was from 2014. Vaters wrote a follow-up piece that’s worth reading.)

So you see, even though larger churches do offer a LOT – unlimited numbers of ministries in which to get involved; professional-quality childcare; servant pastors for every niche; and the best technology money can buy – many people are beginning to rediscover what makes the community of a small, loving congregation so special.

But Wait! There’s MORE!

Should you conclude that relationships, accountability, and being able to talk with your pastor without an appointment are the only qualities a small church can offer, think again!

There’s more! Much more!

Here are 8 simple ways small churches could actually be BETTER than larger ones:

1. Parking Spaces. Why should one have to search ten minutes to find a parking place within walking distance to the trolley you must ride to get to the front door?

Small churches have plenty of parking; usually no further than a hymnbook’s throw away.

2. No Auditions Necessary. Forget having to try out for the choir, the praise team, the annual play, the children’s musical, or the worship orchestra.

If you can sing, play an instrument, or read a line – or even if you can’t – there’s always a place for you in a small church, at least in the choir.

3. No Training Necessary. So, you want to run sound? You want to operate the lights? You think you have a desire to operate the recording equipment? Well, you’d better have a resume and a list of references if you want to do any of that in a big church.

Seriously, they can’t let just anyone with a desire operate a $25,000 camera or push the buttons that link to the network satellite feed.

But in a small church? HA! With just a little instruction and a few notes, you could be adjusting the mics and pressing “record” in no time!

4. The Best Seating Anywhere. If you come in late to a service at a big church, no kidding, you might need binoculars to see the holes in the pastor’s jeans.

But in a small church, well, the back row might as well be in the reserved section! Compared to a mega-church, the back row in a small church is practically within spitting distance of the preacher.

5. Genuinely-Experienced Childcare. Do you have small children? Do you care about them? Why let Buffy or Bianca watch your crumb cruncher while you worship? Why not trust them to the experienced, floppy-armed grannies that’ve raised more kids than a champion goat farmer?

Who better to make sure your young’uns act right and learn about Jesus than a few ladies who’ve washed out more than a few mouths with Ivory soap? [Disclaimer: Washing out mouths with soap is no longer approved]

6. Free Interactive Technology Museum. Bigger churches are all about the newest, most advanced technology. Smaller churches, on the other hand, rarely have the funds for regular upgrades.

Small churches are like free interactive technology museums where in some places you can listen to both the preacher AND the local radio station at the same time!

7. Food, Food, and More Food. Go to a large church and you’ll find plenty of opportunities to eat. They have Wednesday night meals, socials, finger foods, and all kinds of stuff before Sunday School (morning Bible study). Some large churches even have coffee bars and sit-down restaurants on campus!

But seriously, how does any of that compare to what a bunch of church ladies can whip up for homecoming dinner on the ground? You rarely see Mexican cornbread, turnip greens, or creamed corn in a mega-church.

8. It’s Your Community. Large churches – the ones with huge TV ministries and social programs – are made up of people from all over the place; small churches are filled with your neighbors.

It’s in the small, hometown churches where people learn to shoulder up to each other through the hard times; where a pastor will attend your child’s graduation; where the funerals and weddings are no charge; and where someone always notices when you’re not there.

Seriously, I have nothing against large churches – every pastor would love his church to be one! However, most churches average no more than 80 members, and they are where the majority of solid, faithful, salt-of-the-earth Christians still attend.

So, are small churches really “better” than big ones? That all depends on where God wants you.

But if you don’t want to get lost in the crowd – or in the parking lot – a small church might just be what you’re looking for.

May I suggest one? 

Bethlehem Baptist Church (est. 1790)
95 Bethlehem Church Road, Warthen, GA 31094 Sundays at 11 & 6, Wednesdays at 6:30

For the record, we do have a modern audio and security system. Just saying 🙂

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Filed under baptist, Church, ministry, worship

Were the Democrats Better Than Jesus and Paul?: A Look At the State of the Union Sit-Fest

Politics

You know what they say, don’t you? “A pastor should avoid politics at all costs.” Or, maybe it’s, “Never talk about politics from the pulpit…or online…or at the dinner table…or with a friend…”

The reason is because I am called to minister to people of all political persuasions. It’s foolish to alienate potentially half the people I address by offending them with an opposing political view, ESPECIALLY if that political opinion has nothing to do with the Bible, particularly the Gospel.

But what am I to do when something happens in the political realm and Scripture has something to say? Do I remain silent? Do I avoid even the least offense? Do I say, “That’s only for you people to discuss on your own, not in church, and not with me”?

What if the Bible offers advice that could radically change the negative atmosphere of politics and actually bring our nation’s leaders closer together for the sake of our nation?

Well, it does!

Broken Legs

If you had the opportunity to watch President Trump’s third State of the Union Address (the one where Nancy Pelosi ripped up the paper she fumbled with for an hour), what you saw was a sad, sad sight: nearly all the Democrats had broken legs. It’s true! Hardly any of them could stand up for anything, even news that the state of the Union was great!

Oh, the Republicans in the room were quick to leap to their feet when they heard African-American unemployment was at an all-time low, but the party of 90% of blacks remained in their seats! You KNOW that had to be painful! Broken legs, I tell you.

And what about that time it was announced that we are no longer dependent on foreign oil (the thing that nearly crippled us back in the 1970’s)? What about the news that manufacturing jobs had increased (along with factories coming back to America)? What about the news of lowered prescription drug prices and fairer trade deals with China? For each one of these bits of great news, the Democrats remained in their seats, groaning from the pain in their broken legs, unable to stand and celebrate the common good of our country.

But was it broken legs? Or, was it nothing more than hurt feelings, bitterness, anger, hatred, and spite? What if they were thinking that any good news is bad news as long as Trump is still the President? What if they were unwilling to celebrate anything, or anybody (even a 100-year-old Tuskegee airman that got promoted to General), if it meant admitting Trump was responsible? Their broken legs (or angry feelings) were more important than the people who sent them to Washington.

Jesus and Paul

But I would like to direct your attention to a couple of different instances where both the followers of Jesus and the friends of the Apostle Paul found themselves in a similar situation as the poor, crippled Democrats.

In one case, John came to Jesus upset that there was “one casting out devils” in His name (Mark 9:38-40; Luke 9:49-50). He told Jesus [paraphrased], “We told him to ‘Stop it!” because he wasn’t part of our group.” How did Jesus reply?

Forbid [him] not: for he that is not against us is for us. – Luke 9:50

Then later, in his letter to the Philippians, Paul confirmed that there were some people preaching Jesus, but with selfish motives. Did he protest? Did he let his broken legs keep him in his seat? Not hardly!

It’s true that some are preaching out of jealousy and rivalry. But others preach about Christ with pure motives. They preach because they love me, for they know I have been appointed to defend the Good News. Those others do not have pure motives as they preach about Christ. They preach with selfish ambition, not sincerely, intending to make my chains more painful to me. But that doesn’t matter. Whether their motives are false or genuine, the message about Christ is being preached either way, so I rejoice. And I will continue to rejoice. – Philippians 1:15-18 NLT

Do the Democrats think they are better than Jesus and Paul?

The Common Good

Who are these people that go to Washington, D.C.? Are they not servants of the people who sent them there? Do they represent political parties alone, or do they each take an oath to defend the Constitution of the United States of America, the place where ALL Americans live, regardless their party affiliation?

Jesus and Paul understood that there were people out there who didn’t belong to their inner circles, some of which even had impure motives for what they were doing. Yet, both Jesus and Paul rejoiced that good was being done, nevertheless. People were being freed from demons in the name of Jesus, and people were getting saved after hearing the gospel preached by jealous, self-serving preachers.

Why is it, then, that the Democrats sat like they had broken legs when news of the common good was rampant? Why is it that they could not rejoice at an improved economy, decreased poverty, or lower drug prices that ease the burden of sick people in every political party?

The Answer?

I really don’t have an official answer; I can’t see inside their hearts. However, we could rephrase the question and ask John and the concerned Christians in Philippi why they had problems with people doing the right thing?

Maybe John thought: “Hey! That guy with the orange hair is casting out demons in Jesus’ name!

Maybe the Philippians said: “Dear Paul, there’s a guy over there who said bad things about you, even called you names, and he’s telling people about Christ!

All we know for sure is that both John and the Philippians were wrong for not clapping their hands, as both Jesus and Paul made clear.

Therefore, if the nation as a whole, both the just and the unjust, felt the rain of prosperity as the result of an orange-headed, egotistic outsider, not celebrating the common good makes the Democrats who refused to stand appear petty, childish, and motivated by something other than the people’s best interests.

Maybe they need to hate President Trump less and love our country more.

NOTE: If you don’t like what I just wrote, simply print it off and rip it in two.

Image result for pelosi rips

2 Comments

Filed under America, Bible Study, community, current events, politics

Happy 10th to the Recovering Legalist

It’s My Anniversary!

Actually, it’s not MY anniversary, but it IS a special day for this blog, TheRecoveringLegalist.com!

That’s right, it’s been 10 whole years since I started my blogging adventure with WordPress (I was with Blogger for a few months), and I just want to say a big THANK YOU! to all of you!

This blog has played a huge part in my life, from giving me an outlet to express my feelings and thoughts, to introducing me to many wonderful and interesting (some only interesting) people. Some I have met in person, most I have not, but many have become life-long friends.

Influencers

When people on TV receive awards, they go on and on about the people to whom they are thankful, and they praise those who helped them be successful. I want to do something similar.

First and foremost, without question, I want to thank my Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, my Father in Heaven, and the Holy Spirit for not only giving me the talent to think and to write but also the reason for the hope that is within me. This blog, along with the ones it inspired (ProverbialThought.com and i4daily.wordpress.com) would be pointless if it wasn’t for the grace that lifted me up and set me on solid ground.

Next, I want to thank my wife and my girls for allowing me to write. Even though there were times when they got irritated when I spent too much time doing it (and they had every right), they still supported me and told me they were proud that I was making a difference in the world through this medium. Without their support, I would have given up a long time ago, and not just with this blog.

Last but not least, there are the numerous bloggers I’ve met over the years who have influenced me, encouraged me, prayed for me, and reaffirmed that the Christian blogging community is the next closest thing to family – nobody here gets an inheritance (that I know of). Then again, maybe it is a family.

I don’t know whatever happened to Heather Joy, but her early encouragement made a huge impact. Other folks like David Welford, Jessie Jeanine, Heather Mertens, Daniel Klem, Jessie Clemence, James Neff, Wally Fry, and Chris Jordan made lasting impacts. There are others, too. I wish I could remember them all.

The Posts

As most of you know, it’s always fun to look back at the stats to see what posts had the most views. Aside from the “pages” and stuff, below are the Top Ten from the last 10 years.

  1. Was John R. Rice a Heretic? 
  2. Just the Sound of BB’s
  3. What to Wear to Church
  4. The Brief Departure of a Friend
  5. Dinosaur Bones Found On the Moon
  6. Does Divorce Disqualify?
  7. Liberty or License?
  8. Work, Work, Work
  9. “Please, Lord, Help Me Get One More”
  10. Why Be a Legalist?

Proudest Moments

As I was compiling the above list, the question came to mind: What were your proudest moments over the last 10 years?

Honestly, I guess the proudest, or rather most honored I ever felt was when total strangers would walk up to me and ask, “Don’t you have a blog?” One time this happened when I was shopping at a Lifeway (can’t do that anymore) and a man told me he read my blog all the time – in another country! Sadly, I can’t remember where he said he ministered, but he was a missionary who’d come home to see family and recognized me!

Another time I was recognized was at a Subway. The guy behind me asked, “Are you that guy? The Recovering Legalist guy? The one with the blog?” I said, “Uh, well, yeah, I am.” He was so excited! He then told me how amazing it was to run into me at a Subway in his own town, and then he asked, “So are you just traveling, or something? What brings you here?” I answered, “Well, I just live down the road.”

Of course, how could I forget the day I was told I my blog was going to be featured on “Freshly Pressed“? THAT was neat!

What’s Next?

What will the next 10 years look like? I have the sneaking suspicion that I will slow down a little because of my new schedule and workload. However, what I hope is that the posts I do write will be more substantive and worth reading.

Many times I have written just to be writing, and I guess there is a time for that. But what I would like to develop is the reputation of posting such quality, Spirit-led work that whenever I do publish something you guys will not be tempted to pass over it. I want it to be worth your time.

Besides that, I want to set aside more time to read the stuff you guys write! I know I’ve missed a lot of blessings by writing more than I read.

One more thing. I’m going to set aside a specific time each week to pray for other Christian bloggers like many of you. Some of you may feel like what you are doing is making little difference, but you are wrong! If it’s of the Lord, even just one “click” could have an immeasurable impact on the lives of others.

God bless, and thank you for your following and friendship. It means more than you can know.

12 Comments

Filed under blogging, community

Observations from a Middle-Georgia Pastorate: Food and Fur

It’s still a work in progress, but take a look at my new writing spot!

It’s not the most comfortable seating position (in relation to the keyboard), but I think I’ll get used to it… Oh, cool! I just lowered my chair and the keyboard’s in a better position! Sweet!

Anyway, it’s been a really long while since I sat down to write a brand new post, so here it goes!

Culture Shocks

Moving to a new city and a new culture brings with it a multitude of “shocks.” You’d think that a distance of 250 miles (201 as the crow flies) wouldn’t make that much of a difference, but you’d be wrong. Life in rural middle Georgia compared to metropolitan Chattanooga (Gig City) is totally different, and some adjustments are easier than others.

For instance, back in the Chattanooga area there are tons of restaurants, and not just the fast-food variety. There, for instance, you can find several very good barbecue restaurants, all within a few miles of each other. Yet, when my wife and I decided we wanted to find some barbecue down here, we had to drive 45 minutes to a place that was open only on Fridays and Saturdays, had outdoor bathrooms, had no air conditioning, and the floor was sawdust.

I asked a lady sitting quietly nearby, “So, tell me about this place.” With matter-of-fact tone and an attitude that gave me the impression she didn’t enjoy strangers asking stupid questions, she replied, “My daddy woke up one day and decided he wanted to sell barbecue, so he did.”

Hey, the food wasn’t bad, but even more, you didn’t have to worry about slipping and falling!

As we find other culinary establishments to visit, I’ll be sure to keep you updated. Should you come visit and get tired of my wife’s cooking, you’ll be better aware of your options.

Critter Shocks

We left not only our daughters behind when we moved away, but we left two little dogs we loved, too. However, even though I have no wagging tails to great me when I walk in the door; there are plenty of wagging tails on the outside.

Imagine waking up your first morning in a new house, sitting down on your front porch to enjoy the cool, misty air while you sip a cup of coffee and read your Bible. Then, imagine looking up to see two dogs trotting down the quiet two-lane road, one with a shoe hanging from its mouth by the strings. With only the sound of a few birds singing in the trees and the faint squeak of the antique glider you’re sitting on going back and forth, imagine saying to yourself – as I did, “Well, that’s different.”

Here in the equivalent of Mayberry, the dogs are happy, wander the neighborhood, enjoy being petted, and steal any shoe left overnight on a front porch. Literally, the very next morning this same dog came from the opposite direction with a different shoe … only this time she came into my yard and dropped it long enough lick my hand and roll on her back to greet me. A neighbor, out for a walk at the same time, hollered from the street, “She’s the community dog … she doesn’t belong to anybody, but she’s a good watchdog … her name is Dog.”

…There’s also the gnats.

Did you know there was such a thing as the “Gnat Belt”?

Well, we are in it!

Continued Observations

Honestly, there’s a lot more I’d like to tell you, but I don’t want to wear out my welcome. If I bore you now, you might not come back. How sad would that be?

I mean, I’ve left my hometown; I’d hate to lose you guys!

So, hug the ones you love, thank the Lord for His blessings, and be on the lookout for some more posts. What I’m learning I’ll certainly share with you 🙂

God bless!

19 Comments

Filed under animals, blogging, community, Food, General Observations, places, writing

Revival In Soddy-Daisy

Ever been to an old-fashioned tent revival? Well, here’s your chance!

I mean, here’s your chance to at least watch one night’s meeting from one.

The video link below was originally uploaded from my phone on Facebook live. It was filmed during the evening service on June 5, 2019. The event was a city-wide community revival, each night featuring 2 local pastors.

My daughter and I take the stage in the second half, after which I preach. For you preachers out there, it was a perfect homiletical lesson in the importance of learning how to preach extemporaneously (without notes).

I pray it’s a blessing.

9 Comments

Filed under Christian Unity, community, Preaching

Planning for 30,000!

I published my first posts on WordPress back in September of 2009 – all 4 of them. It was not until July of 2010 that I began to post more often.

But what bothers me is that I have yet to reach the 30,000-view mark. As a matter of fact, this year’s stats saw a dramatic drop, even though the number of posts I published were essentially the same (42 less than last year, and 9 more than in 2017).

So, being that this September will be my 10th anniversary with WordPress, it’s about time I break the 30K glass ceiling.

The following are my plans to accomplish the 30,000 mark:

  1. Pray before each post.
  2. Publish posts that are beneficial, not superficial nonsense meant only to score a few views.
  3. Focus on more in-depth series, like the 10-part one I’m about to do based on a sermon outline.
  4. Re-blog (share) posts from other bloggers on a regular basis.
  5. Read and comment more on other sites.
  6. Explore the “tags” and find new people to meet.
  7. Publish more than one post a day, even if the posts are shared posts or quick, encouraging thoughts, memes, or verses.
  8. Make myself available for doing guest posts.
  9. Keep a sense of humor and sanctified sarcasm 😉

If you have any other suggestions, I’d love for you to share them.

Blessings to you all!

16 Comments

Filed under blogging, community, writing

Sharing (Re-blogging, Social Media) Is Caring

    Starting this Monday (Dec. 17, 2018) through Christmas (do I have to tell you the date?), I encourage all of you to accept the following challenge: “Like” and Share our fellow bloggers’ posts.

    Sure, go ahead and write your own stuff, but try to share another blogger’s work at least once a day, either by re-blogging on your own site, or by forwarding it on other media platforms. If possible, try to find a different blogger to repost for each day. 

    By the way, is it “reblogging” or “re-blogging”? Or either?

    Anyway, sharing the posts from other bloggers is a way to increase their readership, along with yours. But mostly, it’s a way to show how much you appreciate what others in our blogging family contribute to the Kingdom. 

    Build our community through sharing and edification.

Sharing is caring. 

Are YOU up for the challenge?

 

13 Comments

Filed under blogging, Christmas