“A Word for this Week:” Pastor Bill Mugnolo: HARP Pastoral Advisor
Week of 5-22—28, 2017: “Small Church, Big Impact” … John 14:16-18
Recently, I received a mailing from Concordia University, New York. This college, located just to the north of New York City in the Village of Bronxville, is one of the smaller schools in the Concordia University System which encompasses ten colleges and two seminaries. But even though Concordia/New York is small in size, they used a bold slogan on their mailing: “Small School, Big Impact”.
With the alteration of just one word, this slogan could also be applied to many smaller congregations so as to read, “Small Church, Big Impact”. In this day and age, there are many larger congregations which have many programs and activities. Such a wide range of ministries certain do have their appeal—oftentimes to families with children. The large congregation, indeed, does have its place.
But as a small church pastor throughout my ministry, I certainly believe that there is a place in the Lord’s vineyard for smaller congregations. At their best, these smaller churches offer special opportunities for building up relationships. The bond between the pastor and his flock can often become close and intimate. When special needs arise, they are often met in a way that goes beyond a “one size fits all” approach. Then, while the selection of service opportunities may be limited, the smaller congregation is in a position to “adopt” a particular ministry and develop a close tie to it. This is what the congregation where I serve, Hosanna Lutheran Church in Columbia Station, Ohio, has done in relationship to the ministry of Helping Appalachian Rural People (HARP) in Caldwell, Ohio.
In this day and age, the smaller congregation, along with other “small scale” ministries, may seem like “endangered species”. But God’s hand, I believe, is upon so many of them so that they might live out that slogan, “Small Church, Big impact”. And just as He did with the disciples who would make up the first Christian congregation in Jerusalem, Jesus promises to send them the Helper who is the Holy Spirit to dwell with them and lead them into all truth (John 14:16-17). He also promises, in verse 18, “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.”
Though we might, in certain parts of His harvest field, be small in numbers, Jesus gives to us these big promises so we can have a big impact. May we walk in the works He has prepared in advance for us to do to the glory of His Name (Ephesians 2:10).