"THE BENEFITS OF A SMALL CHURCH"

                           INTRODUCTION

1. Churches come in all sizes...
  a. Some are large, numbering in the thousands, even tens of thousands
  b. Some are small, with as few as two or more people meeting in a
     home

2. The definition of church sizes is rather arbitrary, but here is
  one...
  a. A small church is less than 200 members (80% of churches)
  b. A medium church has 201-400 members (10% of churches)
  c. A large church as 401+ members (10% of churches)
  -- For some, even 200 members constitute a large church

3. Each size has its advantages...
  a. There are things a larger church can do with its increased
     resources
  b. But there are benefits of small churches often lost in larger
     churches

[My purpose is not to encourage stagnation in church growth, but to
remind us of the benefits (and obligations) of a small church lest we
become discouraged...]

I. BENEFITS OF A SMALL CHURCH

A. STRONGER SENSE OF FAMILY...
     1. A small church is one where almost everyone knows each another
        a. Face-to-face interaction is much easier
        b. Even when we don't remember their names, we remember their
           "face"
     2. A small church is one where it is easier to develop familial
        relationships
        a. A sense of "family", which is proper - cf. 1Ti 5:1-2
        b. An opportunity to cross generational lines
           1) Where children learn to relate to others besides their
              peers
           2) Where young and old benefit from each other's strengths

-- The family of God is a wonderful blessing (Mk 10:28-30); a
        blessing most often experienced in small churches

B. GREATER OPPORTUNITIES TO GROW...

     1. More likely that we are needed
        a. The roles to fulfill are not that much different between
           large and small churches
           1) Roles such as serving in public worship, Bible classes,
              etc.
           2) Whether large or small, the number of teachers,
              preachers, song leaders, etc.,
              that are needed is about the same
        b. The ratio of roles to members is usually much greater in
           small churches
           1) Simply because we do not have a large pool of members to
              choose from
           2) Therefore there is often a greater need in small churches

     2. More likely that we are used
        a. Larger churches often require a large rotation in its use of
           members
           1) Opportunities to preach, teach classes, serve in the
              public worship may be rare
           2) One may have the opportunity to be used only once in a
              long while
        b. Smaller churches use those willing to serve much more
           frequently
           1) Out of necessity at times, but can also be by design
           2) Small churches are often the training ground where
              leaders for large churches developed their skills

     3. More likely that we are missed
        a. One's absence is more keenly felt in a small church
           1) Especially when needed to fulfill a certain role (e.g.,
              Bible class teacher)
           2) One's absence can be overlooked for several weeks in a
              larger church
        b. For those needing encouragement, this is important
           1) It is too easy to get lost in a crowd
           2) We need brethren who will take notice when we begin to
              show signs of weakness - cf. Ga 6:1-2

-- Proportionally speaking, more preachers, teachers, elders, and
        average members have been developed by small churches than
        large churches

[Of course, there are many things a large church can do that a small
church cannot.  But small churches have their benefits that we need to
appreciate.  They also have their obligations...]

II. THE OBLIGATIONS OF A SMALL CHURCH

A. NURTURE SENSE OF FAMILY...
     1. Congregationally, by providing opportunities for spiritual
        fellowship
        a. E.g., Bible classes, gospel meetings, etc.
        b. E.g., visitation programs, to encourage the weak, minister
           to the sick
     2. Individually, by providing opportunities for hospitality
        a. E.g., inviting others into our homes, going out together
        b. E.g., getting together for social occasions, such as
           potlucks

-- As we seek to nurture our sense of family, we must be careful
        not to limit our efforts to those in our physical families.

B. PROVIDE OPPORTUNITIES FOR GROWTH...
     1. Training those willing to learn and serve
        a. E.g., men's classes on serving in public worship, preaching,
           teaching
        b. E.g., ladies' classes on teaching ladies, children
     2. Utilizing those willing to develop their abilities and talents
        a. E.g., providing opportunities for men willing to preach,
           lead singing, etc.
        b. E.g., likewise for women willing to teach children, other
           women, etc.

-- We should not feel that a preacher is shirking his duties when
        he opens his pulpit or Bible classes so others can grow through
        such experiences - cf. 2Ti 2:2

C. WATCH FOR STAGNATION...
     1. It is tempting to want to remain small
        a. Because of the advantages of a small congregation
        b. Its warmth, friendliness, etc.
     2. The Lord expects us to grow - cf. Mt 13:31-32; Jn 15:1-2
        a. We should not be content to remain small
        b. We should be seeking to grow both as individuals and as a
           congregation

-- If we are not on an upward spiral of growth, we are likely
        heading downward

CONCLUSION
1. Again, there are advantages to different sizes in congregations...
  a. My point has not been to suggest one size is superior to another
  b. My purpose has been to ensure we do not let smallness become a
     hindrance

2. As a small congregation...
  a. We need to focus on our strengths, which should lead to growth
  b. If we do not, we will likely stagnate, if not die altogether

Focus on our strengths as a small congregation, and it is more likely we
will remain healthy when we become a larger congregation!
 ---------- ---------- ---------- ---------- ---------- ---------- ---------- ---------- -----
 "ATTITUDES NEEDED IN CONGREGATIONAL WORK"

                         INTRODUCTION
1. As Christians work together in a local congregation, the right
  attitudes are necessary...
  a. All the talent in the world cannot make up for wrong attitudes
  b. With the right attitudes, our efforts in service to the Lord are
     enhanced and live up to their full potential
2. In what areas should we be concerned about our attitudes?
  a. Our attitude toward God
  b. Our attitude toward ourselves as individuals
  c. Our attitude toward our brethren
  d. Our attitude toward the work we do together as a church
  -- In a least these four areas, we must be sure to maintain the
     proper attitudes
[And what are the proper attitudes?  Let's begin with our...] 

I. ATTITUDES TOWARD GOD

A. LOVE...
     1. We must have the right kind of love toward God
     2. Jesus defined that kind of love in Mt 22:37
     -- Do we love the Lord with all our heart, soul, and mind?
B. FAITH AND TRUST...
     1. Faith is a strong conviction and trust in things one does not
        see - He 11:1
     2. Without faith, it is impossible to please God - He 11:6
     -- Do we have the kind of faith which pleases God?  If not, cf.
Ro 10:17
C. THANKFULNESS...
     1. Every Christian should have "the attitude of gratitude" - cf.
Col 3:17; Ep 5:20
     2. God's righteous indignation is toward those who have become
        unthankful - cf. Ro 1:18-21
     -- An attitude of thankfulness for the blessings we have will
        help allay the bitterness that often destroys the spirit in
        any congregation
[If our relationship with God is right, it increases the likelihood
that our relationship with others will be smooth as well (Pr 16:7).
What also helps are the proper...]

II. ATTITUDES TOWARD OUR SELVES

A. HUMILITY...
     1. A humble estimation of one's self is very important - Ro 12:3,
16
     2. Humility includes a willingness to serve, even to do "menial"
        tasks - Jn 13:6-17
     3. "Show me a man who cannot bother to do little things and I'll
        show you a man who cannot be trusted to do big things."
        (Lawrence D. Bell) - cf. Mt 25:21
     -- Are we humble enough to serve your fellow brother?
B. TEACHABILITY...
     1. To be teachable is to be wise - Pr 15:31,32
     2. Teachability includes:
        a. An eagerness to learn and grow
        b. The ability to learn from correction, to profit from advice
           and criticism
     3. The old as well as the young need a teachable attitude:
        "Education is too good to limit to the young." (Elton
        Trueblood)
     -- How teachable are we, when it comes to opportunities to study
        God's word?
C. HONESTY TOWARD OUR MISTAKES...
     1. This includes a willingness to admit our mistakes - Jm 5:16
     2. And a willingness to correct them
     -- Everyone makes a mistakes; a congregation that functions well
        and grows is one filled with people who learn from their
        mistakes!
[The attitudes of humility, teachability, and honesty will certainly
prepare us to be useful to the Lord.  They will also have a bearing on
our relationship with others in the congregation.  Let's now focus our
attention on...]

III. ATTITUDES TOWARD OUR BRETHREN

A. LOVE...
     1. Jesus taught us the necessity of loving our brethren - Jn 13:
        34-35
     2. We have been born again that we might love one another
        fervently - 1Pe 1:22-23
     -- If we truly love one another, how can we not work together?
B. COOPERATION...
     1. This involves a willingness to work together, as God intended
        - 1Co 12:21
     2. We need to be able not only to work, but to work together!
     3. "It marks a big step in a man's development when he comes to
        realize that other men can be called on to help him do a
        better job than he can do alone." (Andrew Carnegie)
     -- Where there is cooperation, a good way of doing things will be
        more productive than a better way of doing things where
        cooperation does not exist!
C. APPRECIATION FOR OTHERS AND THEIR WORK...
     1. We need to appreciate what others are doing - e.g., 1Co 1:14;
1Th 5:12,13
     2. True appreciation for others will eliminate destructive
        criticism, gossip, divisiveness
     -- Expressing appreciation is like grease on the gears of a
        machine...it makes others do their work much better!
D. SUBMISSIVENESS...
     1. We are to submit to one another - Ep 5:21
     2. And we are to submit to those in positions of leadership
        (e.g., elders) - He 13:17
     -- Too many chiefs, not enough Indians...that is a common problem
        in many organizations!
E. PEACEABLENESS...
     1. Peace among brethren is something that we should purse - Ro
        14:19
     2. It is part of walking worthy of our calling - Ep 4:1-3
     -- The true children of God are those who are peacemakers, and
        sow their deeds of righteousness in the atmosphere of peace
        - cf. Mt 5:9; Jm 3:17-18
F. HOSPITALITY...
     1. Christians are to be hospitable - Ro 12:13
     2. This includes both hospitality to strangers and to brethren
        - cf. He 13:2; 1Pe 4:9
     -- A factor in the rapid spread of the church in the first
        century was the hospitality extended by the Christians - cf.
3Jn 5-8
G. WARMTH, FRIENDLINESS, OPENNESS...
     1. We see this expressed by those in the church at Jerusalem
        - Ac 2:44-47
     2. It continued with the saints in Antioch - Ac 11:27-30
H. GENTLENESS, MEEKNESS...
     1. Especially necessary in dealing with the spiritual weak - Ga
        6:1
     2. But also in dealing with those who oppose us - 2Ti 2:24-26
I. FORGIVENESS, FORBEARANCE, PATIENCE, LONGSUFFERING...
     1. All of these attitudes overlap, and are very important - Ep 4:
        2,32
     2. They help smooth out the bumps and obstacles that Satan will
        put in our way in his effort to destroy the local church
[Finally, let's survey some of the necessary...]

IV. ATTITUDES TOWARD OUR WORK

A. GRATITUDE FOR THE PRIVILEGE OF OUR WORK...
     1. Paul certainly possessed this attitude - 1Ti 1:12; 1Co 15:
        9,10
     2. Do we appreciate what an honor it is to offer service in
        kingdom of our Lord?
B. ENTHUSIASM, EAGERNESS...
     1. Remember, God loves a cheerful giver - 2Co 9:7
     2. Nothing is so easy but that it becomes difficult if done with
        reluctance
     3. Nothing is so hard that it cannot be made easier with
        enthusiasm
C. INDUSTRIOUSNESS, DILIGENCE, ENERGY...
     1. Like those in Nehemiah's day, we need a "mind to work" - Neh
        4:6
     2. If we are to serve men "heartily", how much more the Lord - Co
        3:23
     3. Some people are like blisters...they never show up until the
        work is almost done
     4. The slothful person is just as harmful as the destructive
        person - Pr 18:9
D. INITIATIVE...
     1. Initiative has been defined as the willingness to do what is
        right without having to be prodded
     2. We should not have to be reminded constantly of our
        responsibilities - cf. 1Ti 4:14; 2 Tim 1:6
     3. When you see something that needs to be done, don't criticize,
        energize! (i.e., do it yourself!)
E. POSITIVENESS...
     1. We are to do things without murmuring and grumbling - Php 2:14
     2. The chronic complainer and the negative thinker are
        obstructions to the work of a congregation
F. PERSISTENCE...
     1. We must have the attitude of Christ, not just to do, but to
        finish the work of God - Jn 4:34
     2. We need "finishative" as well as "initiative" - cf. He 6:12
     3. Then we can say with Paul:  "I have fought the good fight, I
        have finished the race, I have kept the faith." - 2Ti 4:7

CONCLUSION
1. Ideal attitudes make for ideal working conditions among the members
  of a local church...
  a. Attitude improvement can be compared to the woodcutter sharpening
     his ax - Ec 10:10
  b. If we want the work of the congregation to go smooth, hone our
     attitudes!
2. Certainly the attitudes described this lesson will help the cause of
  Christ in any  congregation...
  a. They will improve our relation with God, ourselves, our brethren,
     and our work
  b. They will make us "useful to the Master, prepared for every good
     work" - 2Ti 2:21
Are we developing the right kind of attitudes that prepare us for the
work of the Lord?