Thinking about how a small church like VCF contributes to the body of Christ, we can start by asking: If a church is healthy, will it grow? If all healthy churches grow, then how does growth happen in churches that aren’t seeing the increase in attendance?
- Some Churches Grow By Multiplication. Often, large churches don’t fit the culture or meet the needs of people. Instead of getting bigger, church growth can mean planting new congregations. In fact, in places where the church is growing as percentage of the population, it is far more likely to be happening by the multiplication of smaller congregations than by building larger ones.
- Some Churches Grow By Sending. Mike Stachura wrote: “The success of a church is measured by its sending capacity, not its seating capacity.” Pastors and church leaders love saying things like that. But when a church actually sacrifices its seating capacity in favor of increasing its sending capacity, the response is often, “there must be something wrong with that church because it’s not growing.”
While many churches have been able to increase seating and sending, other churches find themselves in the position of having to choose one or the other. And some of them choose sending over seating.
Many small churches regularly see people come in, get discipled, then leave for other ministries to disciple others. If our call is to be a sending church, we need to do it with all our heart. Our work may not result in the numerical growth of our church, but it will bless the church (universal).
- Some Churches Grow In Influence in our Community. Increasing the number of people sitting in our building for weekend services is too small a vision for our church. We want to impact the entire world for Jesus. And it’s never been easier to do that, in very real ways, than right now.
I only need to point to the prayer ministry of VCF which has inspired other churches in Lynden and now Bellingham to start using Praying the Word for Your Church. The enthusiasm for prayer has spread to North County Christ the King, 1st Reformed, Northside Community Church and Redeemer Church; all because God gave VCF this tool to allow us to watch prayer change people’s lives.
VCF can make an impact on Lynden and Whatcom County, even though we are small in Sunday attendance. That doesn’t mean we can give up, coast along, or offer excuses. We all have a responsibility to reach new people for Jesus while serving the members we already have.
Every healthy church can and should grow. But it may not grow in the way you want or expect. We have to be okay with that. After all, we’re not the ones in charge of building the church. Jesus is!
We celebrate how he uses VCF, and pray more of you will join in this powerful faith story. But I must remind all of us we need to maintain a commitment to obey and the humility to give Jesus the credit, so we can do what God asks VCF can do to fulfill our role in the Great Commandment and the Great Commission.