Saturday, December 30, 2006

Small Town Churches

So much of what is written about church growth is written or produced by pastors of churches in suburban or urban churches. A church that is in a metropolitan area has different factors to contend with than a church in a small town. I pastor in Bethany which is a village of less than 1300 souls. But every one of those souls is important to God. After five years here I don’t feel like I really understand all the factors that allow for or prevent growth in a small town church. Yet there are churches in small communities that are thriving and growing. One of my resolutions for 2007 and beyond is to learn from these churches and pastors. As much as I enjoy city life it seems to me that God has called us to small town ministry at least for the foreseeable future.

If I am to learn from thriving small town churches than I must identify them. I am ordained by the Assemblies of God. Many of the early churches in our fellowship began in small towns and villages. I and our church are part of the Illinois District. As of December 31st 2005 the Illinois District of the A/G had 296 churches. Of these according to my research approximately 76 are in towns with a population of less than 5000. That is slightly more than 25%. Of these I do not at this time have attendance for 12 which is 15%. 12 or %15 have an average of 20 or less on Sunday morning. 18 or 24% have attendance of 21-40. 12 or 15% have an attendance of 41-60. Seven or 9% have an attendance of between 61and 80. Another 9% have an attendance of between 81and 100. There are six reporting an average attendance of between 101 and 150 accounting for 8%. And two churches report more than 150 on Sunday morning with averages of 188 and 329 on Sunday morning this is 3%.

I am working on a questionerre to send out beginning with the church that report more than 80 on an average Sunday morning. As much as our cities are growing there are still people living in small towns and rural areas. Jesus came to seek them too. So I want to be more effective in reaching them.

1 comment:

Bek said...

That kind of research sounds like the makings of an interesting book.