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In the grand scheme of things, how important is your church?

Let's think together about church, and in particular the church where you are a member. If it is like most churches today it is not very large (probably less than 200 people). You may be tempted to think that your church in its modest size is rather insignificant. When I talk to people about their churches I almost sense a little embarrassment about the size and perceived scope of their church. Apologetic words like small and ordinary come out. I would argue that these words are not bad at all--and perhaps even quite accurate--but it is the sentiment behind them that is concerning, especially in light of what the church is and does.

When you read that word ordinary, what do you think of? Common synonyms include unimpressive, typical, normal, and common. As soon as you attach these synonyms to a noun, you will draw conclusions: My day was typical. The movie was unimpressive. The book was average. When we think about the church in general and our church in particular, we might be a bit embarrassed to call it "ordinary." But what if you don't have thousands of members, a massive building, or the reputation for being the "cool church?" What if you are just a church? What if you are an ordinary ministry? Is this OK?

Here is the bottom-line reality: the church is the most important organization on the planet. Its importance and inherent value is not dependent upon size but substance. Let's remember that the church has the highest calling on the planet. Her job is to glorify God. There is nothing more noble nor important than this. This does not impugn the importance of other organizations that do very good things, but it does relativize them. Nothing takes the place of prominence like the church. The church is the bride of Christ.

The church also has a tremendous impact on our present lives. As Christians gather and work together to hear and apply God's word, they are serving to encourage each other to find our joy, identity, hope, meaning and purpose in God. We work together to glorify God by finding our true contentment in God. What a difference this is from where we were prior to conversion!

Furthermore, the church has the greatest impact. While many organizations may boast of real help for people in this world (and I praise God for them) only the church can truly say that it brings help in this world and the next. The church is involved in rescuing sinners from an eternity in hell. Think about this: we rejoice in a group that is able to help people get over addictions and enjoy a meaningful life. But, as good as this is, it only has an impact for a handful of decades. How much more does the church shine in her mission to seek and save the lost from eternal suffering?

As Christians we should be very careful not to attach unbiblical thinking to the church. However subtle or unintentional it might be, diminishing the beauty, primacy, and power of the church smudges the glory of Christ. It lets some air out of the tire that God has chosen to be his primary vehicle for displaying his glory.

Is your church ordinary? Small? Well, my Christian friend, if it is preaching the gospel and endeavoring to help others to know and follow Jesus then it is not insignificant. It is powerfully important and surpassingly glorious. And, you should praise God for it–even as you get to work in it!

[photo via Shutterstock]

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10 thoughts on “Don’t Be Embarrassed by Your Ordinary Church”

  1. Chuckt says:

    I think the real question is: How important is the gospel and other Christian workers and Christians to the Church? Do they give us the resources to do our job? Are there any opportunities for Christians to work in the Church. And how many pastors strangle the potential in the church because they are the only ones who can do it? And our radio pastor always says that everyone in church wishes he was dead so they can be up front. Why aren’t there other opportunities for some and not others? Why do I feel that I’m always treated like a baby Christian?

    “You’re still a babe, you have to grow, give it 20 years or so.”

    “How can one of His act like one of us”-Steve Taylor, “I want to be a clone”.

    1. Mark Ketchum says:

      I would suggest that since YOU are the Church, your question, “do THEY give us the resources to do our job” would be about you. I believe people often make the mistake of looking to the Church instead of being the Church.

  2. Caleb Suko says:

    Probably one of the reason we often think less of our own church is because we compare it with the mega-churches we see online. Unfortunately, it’s kind of like coveting someone else’s spouse, what we see from a distance always looks a bit better than what we see up-close in our home church. The reality is that often bigger churches mean bigger problems, they’re just not always on the surface. What we see is what those churches choose to put out on social media.

    1. David says:

      I agree Caleb. But I would add it is also due to writes of these articles classify small as less than 200. That makes the average church which is actually 60 or less feel even more ordinary or less than ordinary. But I also agree with the premise that there are no ordinary or less than ordinary churches simply because of size if the church fulfills its individual mission.

  3. It can also be difficult talking to people in a big city about your church when it’s not the largest church around. But I’ve found that people still like to hear about your church as long as you come off as a kind person who cares a lot about Christ.

  4. Mark says:

    I pastor a church of 32 members with an average attendance of 55. So 200 to me is a large church! One of the things with a small church is you, as a pastor, get a front row seat on watching the Spirit apply the Word to the hearts of men and women. Honestly, giving account for 32 souls plus the missional opportunity to reach those who attend and haven’t committed is plenty daunting for me! What a great joy God has given to us who are called to be pastors.

  5. Michael Scaman says:

    In Acts 2 the Holy Spirit came to about 120 people, on the order of a smallish average church in the US

  6. Daniel Doerbecker says:

    Having attended large (+1000 members) churches for most of my life. I started attending a small church a few years ago. While there are advantages to larger churches through programs and outreach capabilities. The smaller church enables the pastor and elders to concentrate on the spiritual needs of each individual of the flock. Either way the important thing is that believers are edified and the gospel is preached to those who haven’t heard it.

  7. Nick Batzig says:

    Thanks, Erik! This is a great and always needed reminder.

  8. Cheryl Gnagey says:

    Ask God if He thought Gideon was small or ordinary or uninportant. That helped me get over the idea that our church wasn’t big enough.

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Erik Raymond

Erik Raymond is senior pastor of Emmaus Bible Church in Omaha, Ne. He and his wife Christie have six children. You can follow him on Twitter.

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