By Vernon Love
Do you really believe the words of Jesus? It is easy to quote Mark 16:15-16 or Acts 2:38 to one that is lost and insist every word is true. What about all the other words that Jesus spoke? For instances, Jesus said to his disciples, “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matt. 18:20). Do we believe that when two or three worship together that it is acceptable? Or, must we have a large number gathered together before we would think meeting with them?
In this day of modernization it seems that bigger is better. The smaller stores and companies sell to the larger. The larger stores seem to draw the business. But, also there seems to be among some Christians that the congregation they assemble with must be several hundred before they will go there. We know of a denominational church nearby that built a very large building and then sent buses out over the country to pick up people which took the people away from congregations that were smaller. This really caused some hard feelings. However, we know of some preachers who are “sheep stealers,” that is they will try get members to leave their congregation and go to where my preacher is preaching.
We also have some in worship services get up and say “we are just a poor small struggling group.” That really is a lot of encouragement to the listeners. Do we really believe the words of Jesus that “where two or three are gathered together in my name, there I am in the midst of them”?
There are many congregations in our nation that are small, but are faithful and worshiping their Lord. Many of these cannot pay a preacher so he can work full time but that does not matter. They assemble, and all are grateful for all who come. Does this make the members second class, or the preacher a “one horse preacher”?
If one is baptized in a small congregation does this make him a second class member? I think not. If a congregation is small, does this mean that they are lazy, or sinning because they have not built it up to a large group? I think not. In many place in the world there are small communities that never grow, so the potential for the church to grow is not as great as in a larger city.
What can we do for the small congregations where only a few may be meeting? I suggest that when you are traveling on a trip for a vacation or coming to the south for the winter look up a small congregation and stay awhile. This will be great encouragement to them. We know of a man and wife who spent their summers traveling in the north going from one church to another which was small in number. They would go out during the week and pass out literature and invite the community to services. This man and wife attended a large congregation but was willing to help small ones during the summer.
Another thing we can do more of, is to send the preacher into communities where the church is small and hold a gospel meeting . We know of some preachers who are willing to do this and it really means a lot to a small group. We could also send support to preachers in small congregations. Any amount would be deeply appreciated.
But most of all we need to believe our Lord when he said, “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” If Jesus will do this, should we not also be willing to assemble with small churches also?