Steve Holt /Small Rural Churches

Steve is a ministry specialist at the Tennessee Baptist Convention. 

God Loves Small Churches

Someone has said that God must love small churches because He made so many of them.  While some may argue against that kind of logic, there is no doubt about the fact that most churches are small churches.  Our Tennessee Baptist Convention is primarily composed of small churches.  Approximately 2200 of our 3000 TBC Churches have less than 100 people in Sunday School on Sunday morning and most of those churches are rural churches.  Each one of those churches matter to our Heavenly Father and all of them have the potential to make an impact on their community and the world for Christ.  Our tendency toward “bigger being better” has led some to feel that small churches can’t minister to the needs of their church members as effectively as a larger church can.  But in reality most rural churches are very effective in creating a sense of community and a healthy environment where both young and old can be nurtured in their faith.

Rural Churches Model Christ’s Love

One of the things I appreciate about the rural churches with which I am familiar is the way they care for their members.  Whenever there is a death or sickness, the whole church mobilizes for action.  In my first pastorate I knew that when there was a death in the church the hurting family would experience love and caring from their entire church family.  Food would arrive in abundance and most all the congregation would be at the funeral home to show their love and support.  The message the church expressed so beautifully to those who were grieving was, “You are family and when you hurt, we are here for you.”  What a ministry!

That same spirit impacted our outreach efforts as well.  While we prayed for all the “lost,” we also had specific names and faces we were lifting up to God.  Those faces were the husbands, children, parents, relatives, neighbors, and friends of our church family.  We knew them personally and rejoiced every time they came to church for some special event or program.  We visited with them in their homes, invited them to church and shared our faith with them.  We wept with their loved ones over their lostness and rejoiced with them when they were saved. In that respect the evangelistic efforts of a rural church can truly represent “personal” evangelism.

The impact of rural churches on Baptist life in Tennessee is immeasurable.  From the time of the pioneers, Baptists have made their presence known all across our great state through the ministry of congregations who, though small in number, allowed their passion for Christ to lead them beyond their limitations toward God’s preferable future of harvest and Kingdom Advance.

Published in: on January 25, 2009 at 2:47 pm  Comments (4)  


  1. At the risk of romanticising the small Town&Country church and ignoring our weaknesses, I don’t think these numbers necessarily require defending. I say give us more small churches. I especially say this in light of the “150 and under mark” being used as a line of demarcation. Furthermore, I would be far more interested in avg. weekly worship. Sunday school is nice but not essential. Give me an army of Town&Country churches avg. 100-150 weekly and wouldn’t worry about SS Avg.

    • As always Perry, you have the unique ability to say what I would like to say and actually sound smart. So I’ll just say ditto.

  2. Also, far more important than SS avg. would the % of families regularly holding family worship throughout the week.

  3. Well, I was influenced by the great Barnhart:)

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