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Double-Digit Churches

The unique struggles and joys of pastoring a congregation of less than a hundred.

Pastoring a small church, like driving a subcompact, can make you feel inferior.

You're buffeted by passing eighteen-wheelers, the turbulence making control difficult. Luxury cars cut you off, and their drivers never look back. You feel fragile, unnoticed, insignificant-until you start looking around. Then you realize how many smaller models there are. They're everywhere.

Small churches, too, are actually a majority. Well over half the churches in the United States are ecclesiastical subcompacts. Of United Methodist churches, 69 percent have an average Sunday morning attendance of less than 100. The Assemblies of God, perhaps the fastest growing denomination, reports a full 70 percent of their churches with membership of less than 100. Southern Baptists report that 59 percent of their churches have a Sunday school enrollment of less than 150.

Despite lip service to "small is beautiful," the unique struggles and joys of small-church ministry don't get much attention. Larger churches often ...

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