The Indispensable Guide for Smaller Churches
By David Ray
Published by Pilgrim Press
In his book, The Indispensable Guide for Smaller Churches, David Ray makes a clear argument that the smaller church may be the best vehicle for living out God’s mission in our communities.
He begins by looking at the history and theology of smaller churches. The communities that Paul established in Asia were smaller churches. Jesus had a great number of followers, but limited himself to twelve disciples. In addition David argues that God’s own preference is for smaller over larger, weaker over smaller. Through discussion of the story of Gideon, David points out that God uses the very much smaller army to grant victory in order to show that it was God, and not their own prowess or numbers, that defeated the enemy.
There is a very solid section which discussed the various definitions and attributes of smaller churches and talks about their strengths and weaknesses. The book then moves to worship and how worship must be different in the smaller church, he presents some principles and practices for smaller church worship. My favourite is “It is folly they resist, not change.”
David Ray also discusses education, caring, mission and the task of helping the church to love itself as a smaller church. He offers principles, practices and advise that is descriptive rather than prescriptive. Any church will be able to find itself in this book and celebrate that they too are serving and called to serve.
David has filled the book with stories of very different congregations living out their mission. The book is well written and a pleasure to read. Even more, it gives smaller church permission to celebrate their size and calling and stop apologizing for not being larger. There is plenty of practical information that a church can use to identify how they are already being the Church at the size they are, and suggestions on how to focus and grow further into God’s work. There are questions at the end of each chapter that would help a Board or other church group use this book as a study.
On the whole this is a very useful book to explore the value and ministry of smaller churches.
“…any smaller church that has a solid theological foundation and adheres firmly to it can and will find a way to resolve and hardship or crisis.”
This and other books about Rural Ministry can be found and borrowed from CiRCLe M