MBC task force focuses on small churches
JEFEFRSON CITY – Strengthening the backbone of the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC), churches that run less than 100 each Sunday in worship, is the focus of the new Small Church Task Force (SCTF). The group is designed to champion and foster the vital role those churches and their leaders play in Missouri Baptist life.
The SCTF met Sept. 29 to shape goals and vision for the group. Specifically, the group hopes to enhance communications, networking and relationships with small churches through their pastors and leaders. George Roach, MBC ministerial services specialist, led the discussions.
“This is about encouraging small church leadership,” he said. “We’re going to be focusing on encouraging and lifting up these pastors in our small churches, whether they are bi-vocation or fully-funded. We also want to bring to the forefront just how important the small church is to Missouri Baptist life and Southern Baptist life.”
Of the approximately 42,000 churches that make up the Southern Baptist Convention, 30,000 are “small churches,” those with fewer than 100 in attendance each week. In Missouri, more than 1,600 of the 2,000 MBC churches fit the small church description.
“Those pastors and members truly are the backbone of our Convention,” Roach said.
Unfortunately, that backbone isn’t always focused on proper proportion to its importance as high-profile, larger churches seem to get most of the spotlight.
“Sometimes small churches feel isolated or that they aren’t in some of our communication loops,” Roach said. “We want to bring an awareness that they are there, that we’re here for them, that they have a vital role in the ministries of the MBC and, more than that, an important part in the kingdom of God and fulfilling the Great Commission.”
Patrick Ryan, director of missions (DOM), Eleven Point River Association, and member of the SCTF agreed.
“Small churches are Missouri Baptist life,” he said. “We just need to get to the point where we as a Convention are giving them the tools and resources they need to grow and stay healthy. More importantly, we’re listening to their needs rather than relying on our perception of what their needs are. The perceived reality that the MBC doesn’t relate to the smaller churches will be the reality unless the perception is changed. We need to change that perception or eventually it will become the reality.”
The issue of church health has moved to the forefront of Missouri Baptist life recently, and Ryan said the task force will also focus on helping small churches become healthy (or healthier) small churches.
“I use an analogy of a doctor,” he said. “Doctors love being in the ER. There’s excitement, there’s adrenaline, they’re dealing with a crisis. Obstetricians like their jobs because they’re delivering babies and bringing new life into the world. But do you know who keeps the body healthy? It’s the general practitioner who works day in and day out, without the glory or glamour. We have people who want to work with a church in crisis and we have people out there who want to evangelize, but we need more general practitioners to take a newborn believer, nurture and disciple it through its adolescent years and all the way through its life. A healthy church, large or small, isn’t just a birthing or crisis center. We need healthy small churches.”
The task force’s members were recommended by DOMs and pastors across the state.