5 Key Benefits of Attending a Small Church

There is no inherent merit to a being a small church. It could even be the fruit of spiritual atrophy among the members. The pride of being "the only solid church in town" may in fact be the narrowness of legalism and the ingrown hair of introspective obsession rearing their hideous, devouring heads.

And yet, a small church may also be the sign of healthy congregational life and strong doctrinal preaching. There are distinct benefits to attending a church on the smaller side. I think we will even be surprised to find that these benefits will be shared by any truly biblical church (small is, after all, a relative term). The key is intentionality.

It seems to be the day of small churches. Nominal Christians are leaving churches in droves as Christianity is pushed further to the fringes of society. It's not a bad thing. Smaller congregations of heavyweight disciples are beginning to shine forth, as they have throughout history.

1. It's biblical

By small we mean to indicate small enough for accessibility to elders and knowledge of the flock from the pulpit. While this can be probably be done on large scales, it is much better achieved in smaller fellowships. According to the Bible, churches must be of such a size as to allow elders to give an account of the flock. It is insanity that men would want to give an account to the living God for people they don't know on any real spiritual level. In addition to this, it must be admitted that most early churches were probably smaller in number.

2. Fellowship

It's a strange phenomenon that the more people attend a church, the harder it is to get to know any of them. This inverted correspondence tilts in favor of small churches. Smaller fellowships are easier to get plugged into, to get to know people, to pursue meaningful membership, to serve. Knowing all your fellow members by name enables you to pray for them and pursue fellowship with them all, to one degree or another. You benefit from their gifts even as you benefit them. As the flock knows and grows together, corporate discipleship's effect is more readily felt.

3. Accountability

Attending a smaller church means you will get noticed, and you will be pursued. It's much harder to fall through the cracks at a small church. If you begin to isolate yourself your elders and fellow members will be more likely to seek you out. Relationships with other members who are held accountable will form more readily and more accountability will be the fruit. Hands-on discipleship is more easily facilitated at smaller churches.

4. Your presence more heavily felt

Your presence will not only be noted, it will be felt. Your membership will mean more to the people and to the elders. The impact of your weekly presence, to say nothing of your service, will be greatly multiplied. This is perhaps what scares people away from smaller churches because they know if they commit they will be expected to serve! Small churches are no place for lazy Christians.

5. Access to elders

God has appointed elders to shepherd his flock, to administer God's word and sacraments. Attending a smaller church means you can have elders in your life. Are members of larger churches able to spend any time with their elders? These are the men God has equipped to watch over your soul, and a smaller church allows you to have a relationship with them. This also means that the preacher will prepare with you and your struggles in mind. Lord's Day sermons become more exactly God's word to his people, and that is exciting. It means you can pick up the phone and call your elders for counsel and encouragement. They are to be your own personal theologians, and small churches allow this good gift to flourish.

I contend that any local church where these five benefits are possible is indeed "small" enough. But if you're looking for a church on the smaller side, I know of one in Minneapolis.