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MAYO (FBC)—The 175 church leaders attending a “Big God, Small Member Church” conference March 2 at Airline Baptist Church in Mayo were challenged to stop looking at the size of their church but rather to focus on the vision and power of the God they serve.
“I believe God loves small churches,” said host pastor Chip Parker. “We have got to stop seeing the size of our church as a limitation but look instead to the God we serve. This conference is about a big God.”
Parker continued: “If we are going to see revival, it will not be in the mega churches. It’s got to start with little churches in little towns.”
The church leaders learned they are the norm rather than the exception in Florida Baptist life, where 85 percent of all churches have 200 or fewer members. Throughout the Florida Baptist convention-sponsored event, they were encouraged, celebrated and given practical helps to implement in their ministry setting.
Keynote speaker Eddie Blalock told participants that size of a congregation is not relevant, “but the size of vision is. God is okay with small churches, but He is not okay with small vision.
“Vision is critical as it lays the ground work and sets the foundation of what He has called us to do,” he said.
The pastor of The Orchard Community Church in Lake City defined vision as “the tension born in the hearts of men and women who cannot accept the status quo. It is having a clear picture of how things are and how they could be, fueled by conviction of how they should be.”
He traced the vision of three biblical heroes—Nehemiah, Gideon and David—who led groups small in number, yet accomplished great things for God.
Nehemiah’s heart was pricked when he learned the walls of his homeland laid in ruins. He seized a vision to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem, not because the walls were in ruins, Blalock explained, but because “the people of God were under reproach. The name of God was being ridiculed and slandered.”
In obedience to God, Gideon culled the number of soldiers ready to battle the 130,000 Midianites from 32,000 to 300 so God could receive glory when a smaller army defeated the larger one.
While no else believed him, David had the vision that he could defeat Goliath, who was ridiculing the people of God, because he knew God was bigger than Goliath.
All churches start as a small church, Blalock told church leaders. “You don’t have to be a mega church. It’s not about packing the seats. It’s about what we are doing for the Kingdom. Small churches have opportunities to do mega things for the Kingdom.”
Tom Kinchen, president of the Baptist College of Florida, reminded participants that every church can receive power as promised by the words of Christ in the Great Commission.
“A big God is seen in small, out of the way churches. I am so glad my God majors on the small things,” Kinchen said. “He didn’t create the world out of small things, He created it out of nothing.”
The college president told the group that God has chosen churches in small towns to change the world. Yet too few pastors choose to claim the power offered to them by God, he said.
“How many are ready to quit when we don’t have large numbers in Sunday School; if we don’t hit our goals?” Kinchen asked.
As he visits churches, Kinchen said what he sees is “tired—tired preaching, tired worship, tired choir and tired leadership.”
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