Small congregations face a unique set of challenges, and don’t always have the resources to participate in ministry in the same way as large churches with big budgets and a large talent pool. But small churches are still an important part of the fabric of our community, and their intimate size offers opportunities that aren’t available to big communities. Here’s some things small churches to keep in mind as they discern their role in ministering to their communities.
Stop arguing about the Christmas pageant debacle of 1968 and whose turn it is to wash up the communion glasses.
Small congregations can be like families, drawn together by bonds of love and habit. Don’t let familiarity blind you to the gifts and the needs of every member; support each other in faith and remember that longsuffering is an under-rated biblical virtue.
Save mowing time and start a small community garden. Clean out the old infants’ room and invite a local UnitingCare Queensland service to use the space. If other groups already use your facilities, try to build a relationship based on being partners in the community rather than only landlord/tenant (invite the dance class to perform in worship for example!)
Surprise the teachers at the local school with morning tea, and ask the school chaplain how you can support their ministry. Build relationships with community business owners and staff by buying locally and encouraging church groups to meet occasionally at the local café.
Partner with local churches to do things you can’t do on your own such as day camp or after-school club. (If your congregation is elderly, avoid climbing walls and high ropes courses.) Community carols, craft stalls, World Day of Prayer are all activities which build community and enhance church profile.
Don’t measure your church by the number of special groups or ministries listed in the pew sheet. Instead, assess your many strengths, and the needs of the community outside the church door, and seek to discern how your congregation is called to live out the gospel today (not yesterday or tomorrow).
Connect with UnitingWorld to form partnerships with congregations in other countries. By supporting people working to build sustainable communities you can make an enormous difference. The Uniting Church is a vibrant, dynamic movement of the people of God and your congregation has an important place.
Wherever you live, people in your community care about social justice issues ranging from disability access to saving the Great Barrier Reef. Offer to host community forums or speak out about the Christian commitment to justice and peace. Visit the social responsibility section of the Queensland Synod website for resources. Be part of the conversation.
How else can small congregations make a difference? Join the conversation at journeyonline.com.au