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Spiritual Leadership: Urgent need for the resurrection of the small church

January 20, 2012 Leave a comment

The following is a short post on the urgent need for the resurrection of the small church in America.  The premise is that the greatest potential opportunity to grow committed surrendered followers of Christ and unleash the full potential of Christ’s church comes from intimate, intentional, proactive, and loving shepherding of the flock (1 Peter 5:2). This is Spiritual leadership at the heart of the gospel.

With over 70% of churches in the United States represented with memberships of less than 300, you have to ask what role the small church is playing in advancing the kingdom of God.   The reality is some are dynamic while many are a sleep.  According to the Southern Baptist Convention the majority of churches seem to be flat or in decline.  Yet, the small church, I believe has the greatest potential to be the catalyst for revival and advancing the cause of Christ in America.  The movement has begun as you see church planting and new church starts on the increase as a core strategy of many ministries, e.g. Acts 29 Ministries, the NAMB, larger local churches.

Why I believe the small church is the future of the church is because the greatest opportunity to advance the kingdom is for the local church to live at the intersection of the Great Commandment (Matt. 22:37-40) and the Great Commission (Matt. 28:19-20).  To do this requires an intentional effort by the local church to focus on the spiritual development of God’s people helping them grow in holiness and an ever deepening relationship with Christ.  This intentionality requires a shepherds heart and continuous influence.  Peter exhorts church leaders to shepherd the flock.

 1 Peter 5:2
2Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly;

What flock?  The flock that is among them!  This means that the primary focus of the pastor is to shepherd the flock God has given and from faithful commitment to this end God will advance His kingdom through the development of committed surrendered followers of Christ.   A healthy church is not necessarily based on its size or the number of new members, but the faithful shepherding of God’s people.  How then do you measure a healthy church?  Some elements include:

  • Marriages restored
  • Broken lives restored
  • Increase in faithful surrendered disciples –growing in holiness
  • Increase in the number of core members serving, going, telling
  • Increase in biblical literacy
  • Passion for prayer
  • Reverent worship
  • Intimate and frequent fellowship of the body

Collectively these areas bring into perspective a view of the apostolic church which grew exponentially through discipleship, prayer, fellowship, ministry, evangelism, and worship (Acts 2:38-47).  These are the basic fundamentals of the Christian walk.  Oh how we need to return to these core fundamentals today.  Not just in activity and by  name but out of the overflow of our love for Christ obediently following His commands (John 14:15, 21, 23; 15:14) and by faithfully employing core Christian disciplines to deepen our relationship with God, becoming more conformed to Christ so we are most usable for the kingdom (Eph. 4:13;Rom. 8:29; 2 Cor.  3:18).

To accomplish the above requires intentional, proactive, relentless, and loving shepherding of the flock God has given His shepherd.  It can be argued that the small church has a great potential to model the apostolic church led by spiritual leaders (shepherds) intent on the spiritual development of his people, growing them in holiness and Christlikeness where revival can be ignited and spread.

Today, given technology, communications, and many available ministry tools the small church can play much larger than it may be represented in numbers of members.  The avenues God may choose to lead a small church may come in many different flavors, many we readily know and employ today (internet, alliances, satellites, etc.).  However, most importantly we know that God’s ways are not our ways (Is 55:8-9).  So, if we really desire to join God in His work it is not our ways that we seek it is His revealing of His ways we desire.  How exciting to know that He has so much more for us than we can conceive and that as we remain faithful we can enjoy the potential privilege of having God reveal God sized activities we can join Him in where He can receive all the glory.  After all with God all things are possible (Luke 1:37).  Our job is to trust Him, be faithful in what He has given, and not put any limits on what He might desire to accomplish through us.  Consequently we much keep in perspective that small churches have no less potential to impact the kingdom of God than the large mega church!

Shepherding of Christ’s church is vital to the cause of Christ and is the key ingredient for the spiritual leadership of God’s people.  The small church is extraordinarily vital to God’s mission to redeem a lost world given the call to “shepherd the flock which has been given”.  Yes, I believe that the resurrection of the small church is crucial and urgently needed for bringing revival in the hearts of God’s people, His church, and our nation.  It starts with committed and surrendered shepherds – spiritual leaders on fire for advancing the kingdom through the shepherding of the God given body of believer’s he has been entrusted with.

Pray for God to raise up spiritual leaders to join Him in breathing new life into the small church, shepherding the flock for advancing the gospel and the kingdom of God.

Much more to come on this vital topic.