Saturday, January 19, 2008

Small, Rural Churches

I'm part of a small, rural church. I preach and worship at other small, rural churches. I find worship in congregations of less than 50 to be refreshingly different than when I was a member of a church with 4000 members. Not better or worse, just different.

Last Sunday we installed the officers for the next year. When every member of every committee was called to the front of the church it was interesting to see that the majority of those in attendance that morning were up front. Most of the people who come to church are responsible for some facet of the life of the church.

Worship can be interestingly more sincere when most who gather together are accountable to each other for the life of the congregation. There is more of an intimacy when everyone knows one another rather than being a "number" in larger gatherings. I can't think of a single time in the 6 years I've been in a rural church that I didn't give or get at least one hug. As best I can recall, I hugged someone twice in the 11 years I spent at the big church.

The culture at my home church isn't unique to that congregation. When delivering a message to other like sized congregations I find the community of believers to be equally warm and hospitable. Not because of anything having to do with the message, rather, something to do with the joy of gathering together in Christ's name. In that special time of worship, small numbers tend to get to deeper level of intimacy.

In the larger churches the intimacy comes in small group bible studies, discipleship courses and the like. That's wonderful. But Sunday morning is more corporate and ritual. Less personal. I find no fault with that in any way, as it is what it needs to be. But small church Sunday mornings where intimacy and communal worship are combined, is beautiful.

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