When I joined our church over 30 years ago, the membership was much larger than it is today. This decline has affected all aspects of church including the number of young people I work with through our Youth Ministry. At one point in the last few years, we only had 4 regular members of the Youth group. For this time, we are considered a "small" church. We have a beautiful, large building, but do not have the members to fill it.
I often wondered what I could do to help increase the numbers but also worried that perhaps I was doing something which kept them away. But now, I recognize that it's not "all about me". Most of the youth have been members of the church since they were children and it has been a natural progression that they come to our group when they reach 6th grade.
As time has passed, I have learned to love small groups. Our meetings are much more intimate and we truly are involved with each other. I'm invited to sporting events, birthday parties, graduations, etc. Not because they have to, because they want me there. If our group was huge, I doubt the impact would be the same. But does that mean I have given up on increasing the number we reach? No, if that is meant to happen, it will. The love of small groups means that I have the unique opportunity to really make a difference in the lives of a few rather than just being the "leader" of many. They know me, where I live, where I work (full time), my husband, my grandson, my children...they know how I live my life. It has been a wondrous discovery to realize that God has blessed me with young people who want to be involved with each other, with me and with our community.
This is part of an article dealing with large vs. small church from a pastors perspective...it was worth sharing...by Daniel Darling:
Where God dwells
Ultimately, ministry jealousy stems from a faulty view of God. During my time on staff at a large church, I mistakenly thought that God only worked through the most cutting edge, organized, streamlined ministries. It's the same misguided view I carried into my experience pastoring a small church.
But Scripture tells us something far different. As Paul reminded the Corinthians, God often works through the "foolish" and "weak" things of this world. Abraham was an impotent pagan whom God raised up to father the nation of Israel. David was the least likely to succeed in his family and yet became King of Israel. Gideon was trembling in fear when the angel of the Lord called him a "mighty warrior." Moses was well past his prime when he led the Israelites out of Egypt. The list goes on.
This is not to say we shouldn't pray for big things to happen in our small churches. But the question is this: what do we consider big? For instance, this year we baptized eight people. For some mega churches, that's the conversion rate of one small group in one weekend. But for these eight people in our congregation, it was a mighty work of God. Heaven's chorus is no less triumphant over one soul than it is over thousands.
I think of the man who stumbled into our humble church a few months ago. His life had fallen apart. One of our elders led him to faith in Christ and this man's faith has grown tremendously. Nowhere in his story will you year anything about how streamlined our programs were or how slick our Sunday morning presentations are (because they are not). What he found in our church was a relationship with Jesus Christ. He found community. He is receiving the vital words of life from Scripture that are empowering his transformation.