Churches Have Self-Esteem, Too
In a bigger-is-better world, it is understandable how quickly we in a small church can feel down on ourselves. If we play the comparison game, we will always come out behind since small churches often lack the resources (finances, facilities, personnel) and prestige that are so highly valued by some. Comparing ourselves to larger churches, we feel inadequate, insignificant or irrelevant.
Inadequate. Insignificant. Irrelevant. If small churches judge themselves by the standards of resources and prestige, then no wonder they come away from the comparison game with hurt feelings and wounded pride. If judged by those standards, then they are inadequate, insignificant and irrelevant. Its quite easy to be cynical or resentful toward large churches.
This is why we must know and understand the story of Scripture. For the Story of Scripture places value upon people because they are created in the image of God and they are loved by Christ to the extent that he died for all. The Story of Scripture places value upon the church, in whatever manifestation, regardless of size, because the church is the beloved people of God, bride of Christ and the temple of God’s Holy Spirit.
Indeed, the Story reorients the church to her creator and redeemer, and therefore to her identity. From the historic work of God, the redeeming work of Christ, and the ongoing work of the Spirit ought to come our feeling of self-worth, value, degree of usefulness and mission. Rather than compare ourselves to large churches with attitudes of disdain for them or woe for us, let us celebrate the work of God in large churches and reconsider how we, as a small congregation, can be a more faithful church.
Judged by the standards of the world, the small church is quaint if not silly. Judged by the grand Story of God, the small church is beloved, indwelt and powerful in mission. The task of church growth for the small church is a reorientation to who we really are and who God intends for us to be.