Small Church Joychurches

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The Joy of Small Churches

Reflections by Donald F.Kelley, retired Elder of the West Ohio AreaUM logo

    I know first hand the joy of small congregations . I have served small congregations for twenty three years as well as nine years in full time appointments.

 I imagine that most folks who are still working in small churches and those who remember those experiences would agree that it is exciting to fellowship where "everybody knows your name!" This atmosphere helps us to take notice of each other. There is considerable joy in this knowledge as it reminds us of the small classes of Methodists created by John Wesley and the profound promise of Christ who said, "For where two or three come together in my name, I am there with them." (Mt.18:20)

Our historic, small churches are not only the backbone of the United Methodist Church but are also a refuge for those going through some trauma, loss, or other needs who would feel alone in a large church. The large church is of course also a refuge for these needs, however, we have all seen the small church minister to those who are not comfortable in large groups. We pray God's prosperity on large and small churches! Please click on the Prosperity Prayer, Addendum XIII

HOWEVER, we have a very serious problem: From 1975 through 2007 two hundred and sixty-four (264) chuches closed their doors! Click on Addendums XI.

Our first concern must be an all out effort to recruit lay pastoral leadership. Many of the small congregations close because leadership is not available. Not all retired elders are available to fill small church pulpits. Those who do are a very amazing group who have kept small churches viable for a number of years. Also, older and new leaders who hold local pastoral license have done a similar work keeping these historic churches alive to the callings of Christ. Please click on Addendums II and VII for a discussion of pathways to lay ministry through the Local Pastor License and the Certified Lay Minister .

Also, for a study of cooperative models to help small churches please click on Four Models . There are other MODELS of SHARED ministry for changes that will preserve the vitality of these small, struggling congregations filled with thousands of dedicated United Methodists across America .

ATTENTION: NON-METHODIST CHURCHES please see Addendum XII for your needs.

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