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.