Small churches are the heart and soul of the SBC. I grew up in one, a congregation where the 5 or 6 could be left up on the board for weeks at a time to indicate 50 something or 60 something in Sunday school attendance. Our sanctuary would seat no more than 150 people, and that was with extra chairs. A deacon’s meeting could be held around the table in someone’s house. Often, after church on Sunday night, the entire congregation would go for coffee and fellowship at someone’s home. And it was not unusual for our church to baptize 10 or 15 people in a year.
Since graduating from college, I’ve had the privilege of serving in small churches as a staff member. There’s nothing like being the second chair staff member in a First Baptist Church that runs 150 in worship, and you are the minister of all other duties not assigned to the pastor. There is never a dull moment. In my first church out of seminary, I was the minister of discipleship, music, youth and families with children and no two days were the same. But the relationships are the best part. You are just you, and that’s how people get to know you. You can be yourself.
That’s why I am planning to support Les Puryear for president of the Southern Baptist convention. He represents what is the single, largest constituency in the convention, small churches in small towns in the South. Read his blog, and you can picture him serving a small congregation in a small town. We need a president who will open the door to a whole new group of individuals serving in leadership, and I think that is what Les will bring about.
See you in Indianapolis.