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But don’t count out smaller churches quite yet. Alongside these challenges that they face, smaller churches can generate a loyalty and a resiliency that make them hard to kill.

A single scandal involving a key personality can make an entire network of megachurches vanish without a trace in the span of a few months. I predict a better outcome for First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs.

People are less likely to abandon the church they attended with their grandparents. I believe that members who have been on the sidelines will step up. Sister churches in that rural area will reach in and give a helping hand. The martyrdom of these believers will bring people to Christ.

I believe that the gates of hell remain the principal threat faced by smaller churches. I believe that the gates of hell will not prevail against Christ’s church.

Bart Barber is pastor of First Baptist Church in Farmersville, Texas. He began preaching in a small-town church in his hometown of Lake City, Arkansas. Barber spoke at this year’s Southern Baptist Convention Pastors’ Conference, in a lineup especially curated to appeal to leaders of smaller congregations. He also writes for SBC Voices.

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Christianity Today
A Small Rural Church Is Hard to Kill