Category: Church

What Makes Small Churches Great Churches:
Part 4: Joy

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What Makes Small Churches Great Churches:
Part 4: Joy


Dr. Thomas Douglas
Pastor
Parkway Baptist Church
Kansas City, KS




This is the fifth article in the series on the importance of small churches. The previous articles are:
The Introduction (an overview and rationale for the series)
Part 1: Truth (an overview and rationale for the series)
Part 2: Mature Love (the imperative of having a loving fellowship)
Part 3: Unity (the importance of unity)


To some, visible demonstrations of joy require having contemporary music, praise bands, projection screens, near professional singers, and a sound system that “raises the roof.”  No doubt joy has an outward expression and large congregations have the financial resources to enhance their worship experience to foster a celebrative atmosphere, but joy took place long before praise bands and American Idol.  Small churches make great places to display joy.  We must remember that rejoicing is not confined to a sanctuary during worship service times, but rather is a way of life in response to the love of God.  Paul makes that clear with his exhortation to the Philippians to “rejoice in the Lord always.  Again I say rejoice (4:4).”

Small churches are great churches when they rejoice in the Lord and the salvation He provides.  Paul emphasizes the theme of joy throughout his short letter to the Philippians.  Comparing his usage of the terms “joy” and “rejoice” reveals that in Romans the two terms appear seven times in his sixteen chapters and in Philippians they occur eleven times in four chapters.  Paul wanted the Philippians to realize that an attitude of joy overcomes disagreements which allows them to fulfill their mission of advancing the gospel.

Throughout the letter of Philippians, Paul provides five foundations for joy in local congregations.  Churches that rejoice in these foundations let the small irritations slide that come with knowing people for a long period of time.  They allow Christians to unite as ministry partners to advance the gospel.

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Bivocational Ministry, Part 2:
Lay People Are Willing to Help Pastors
But Only If They Are Trained

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Bivocational Ministry, Part 2:
Lay People Are Willing to Help Pastors
But Only If They Are Trained


Dr. Dorsett is a bivocational pastor and church planting missionary in Vermont. He is the author of Developing Leadership Teams in the Bivocational Church and Bible Brain Teasers: Fun Adventures through the Bible. He also serves as a church planting catalyst with the North American Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention. He has a passion for helping the next generation discover a meaningful faith and become leaders in sharing that faith with others.

This is the second article of a series on leadership in local churches. The first article is Part 1: Bivocational Ministry is a Growing Method for Ministry.


H. B. London expresses the feeling of many pastors in his book Your Pastor is an Endangered Species, when he writes, “pastors serve in a me-centered world where church members and attenders are becoming more and more apathetic” (15). Many pastors are frustrated because every year it seems that fewer and fewer lay people are willing to serve on committees or accept volunteer positions in the church. A few days ago I wrote a post about how pastors need to learn to delegate. One pastor posted a response that lamented that “it is difficult to get the church body to do the things that need done.” Most pastors would agree with that statement.

But I wonder sometimes if we pastors have unintentionally taught the people in our congregation to be spectators instead of leaders. One pastor friend of mine insists on printing the bulletin himself. He says this is because no one in the congregation is willing to do it correctly. When I asked if he had ever showed anyone how to do it correctly, he said no. How can we expect a person to serve correctly if we have never trained them? Another pastor friend of mine teaches all the adult Bible studies himself. He says he is the only one who knows the Bible well enough to teach it. While that may have been true when he first went to the church, after more than a decade of service to that congregation, why has no one in his church learned enough yet to be able to teach a Bible study? Why has he trained no one how to teach in a decade?

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Bivocational Ministry, Part 1:
Bivocational Ministry is a Growing Method for Ministry

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Bivocational Ministry, Part 1:
Bivocational Ministry is a Growing Method for Ministry


Dr. Dorsett is a bivocational pastor and church planting missionary in Vermont. He is the author of Developing Leadership Teams in the Bivocational Church and Bible Brain Teasers: Fun Adventures through the Bible. He also serves as a church planting catalyst with the North American Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention. He has a passion for helping the next generation discover a meaningful faith and become leaders in sharing that faith with others.


When a pastor is referred to as “bivocational,” it means that he works a second job in addition to his service to the church. This does not mean he is a part-time pastor, as all pastors are in full-time service to the Lord. Only a few pastors are bivocational by choice. Most have been pushed in to it due to the low wages that small churches are able to pay pastors. In many situations, both the pastor and the church wish the pastor did not have to work the second job, but both realize it is just the reality of the situation.

Regardless of the preferences of both pastors and churches, bivocational ministry is a growing practice across North America. There are a number of reasons that bivocational ministry is growing, but the three that are the most obvious are the lack of stewardship training, the rise of the cost of living in North America, and the current economic situation.

A number of studies have demonstrated that older generations were more generous in their giving to churches than young generations. Part of this is that older generations generally carried as little debt as possible, while younger generations tend to want everything now and are willing to take on debt to get it. Once they have all the payments that come with debt, they have less money to donate to the church than their parents or grandparents might have had. Churches must also take part of the blame because many churches are less comfortable teaching about stewardship issues than in the past. Since churches have failed to teach on this subject, even church members who are committed to their church may not be as generous as they would be if they had been taught better. As older generations have either exhausted their resources in retirement or passed away, the younger generations that have replaced them give less money to the church. Therefore, churches that may be relatively the same size as they have always been may have fewer resources than in the past. This often results in the pastor’s salary and/or benefits being reduced. This frequently leads to the pastor having to seek a second job.

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Building Church Health in Surprising Places: A True Story


Dr. William H. Day, Jr. serves as the Gurney Professor of Evangelism and Church Health, and as Associate Director of the Leavell Center for Evangelism and Church Health, at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. He also serves as Pastor of Parkview Baptist Church in Metairie, Louisiana.


Rev. Smith* was excited. His church was growing. People were professing Christ as Savior and were being baptized. God seemed to be blessing his church. There was only one problem. The congregation was running out of space for worship.

As he prayed about what the church needed to do, Rev. Smith realized the church needed to build a new sanctuary. As he began to talk to his leaders about his vision for the church, he was surprised when people responded with little enthusiasm for his plans. Consequently he realized that he needed to allow time for the church to understand that if they wanted to continue to grow, they needed to provide more space. However, as their sanctuary became more crowded, the attitude of the church’s leaders did not change.

Everything came to an unexpected halt in a business meeting. As the pastor talked about his vision for a new building, a deacon stood up and announced, “Pastor you can forget building a new sanctuary. It’s not going to happen.” He then reached into his pocket, took out a document and said, “Pastor, this is the deed to the property where our church is located. I own the property on which the church sits. Nothing can be built here without my approval. So, Pastor, forget this idea about building a new sanctuary!”

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What Makes Small Churches Great Churches:
Part 3: Unity

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What Makes Small Churches Great Churches:
Part 3: Unity


Dr. Thomas Douglas
Pastor
Parkway Baptist Church
Kansas City, KS




This is the fourth article in the series on the importance of small churches. The previous articles are:
The Introduction (an overview and rationale for the series)
Part 1: Truth (an overview and rationale for the series)
Part 2: Mature Love (the imperative of having a loving fellowship)


During the Revolutionary War John Dickerson popularized the saying “United we stand, divided we fall” in The Liberty Song.  In refuting the religious leaders’ claim that Jesus cast out demons by the power of Beelzebub, He articulated unity in this way, “A house divided against itself cannot stand (Matt 12:25).”  If you have been part of a local Baptist church built squarely on the foundation of congregational polity, then you know the challenge unity poses.  Something as insignificant as wall colors or a yellow pages advertisement can spark a sharp discord within a church.  When discussing how a church can remain united when members disagree, a lady in our church responded, “The same way you remain united in a marriage when you disagree.  Your love for one another unites you stronger than the disagreement divides you.”

For a church comprised of members who have placed themselves under the authority of God’s Word and have committed to a mature love for each other that never fades, the challenge of unity becomes achievable.  Small churches are great churches when their members unite in the essentials of the faith, in seeking the best for each other, and in reaching the world for Christ.  Paul’s call for unity in the Ephesian church (ch. 4) stems from three chapters of heavy doctrine.  Paul wanted the Ephesian church, comprised of converted Jews and Gentiles, to experience all the possible blessings and power associated with their faith in Christ.  To do so, Paul goes outside of this world with its limitations of time and space and provides God’s perspective on the Christians gathered in Ephesus.  God has chosen both the Jewish and Gentile believers in Christ (1:4), having “destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility (2:14)” through Jesus’ death.  The unifying act of Jesus’ death leads Paul to pray that the church experiences “how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ (3:18).”

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