Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Book Review of THE STRATEGICALLY SMALL CHURCH by Brandon J. O'Brien


Half of all churches run under 75 a week in attendance. The "small church" is the norm. Yet, over and over again, we see that the large mega-church is held up as THE standard of what the church is supposed to be. This leaves many small churches feeling inferior.

Brandon J. O'Brien tries to boost the self-esteem of the small church in THE STRATEGICALY SMALL CHURCH. O'Brien tries to teach that the small church has strategic advantages in reaching and ministering to people that a larger church does not have. THE STRATEGICALLY SMALL CHURCH tries to encourage the small church to celebrate and build on their strengths instead of focusing on their weaknesses.

Throughout the book, O'Brien identifies several key strengths that a small church has. A small church has more intimate knowlege of each of its members, and a more intimate access of the pastor to the church and vise versa. When someone is ill, everyone knows it. When a group of 30-100 people worship with each other every week, they know their strengths and their weaknesses, they can tell just by the way they are walking that something might be bothering them.

A smaller church can be more nimble and adaptable in its programming and its ministries. A quick change in plans is easier when you have 50 people than when you have 5000. If the community needs to move quickly to address a need, all that is needed is a few phone calls.

In a smaller church, authenticity is not simply easier, it is essential. Much of young adult and outreach ministry is focusing on "authenticity". In a small church, you are more valued for who you are than the image that you project. Sermons are valued as much for whether they come from your heart as they are for how you spin your words together.

A smaller church is able to do ministry in a more "life on life" manner. They are able to equip leaders through mentoring. A person with a passion for ministry is more easily equipped and enabled to do a ministry in a small church structure than in a large one. Intergenerational relationships and partnerships are more easily formed when everybody doesn't split up in the parking lot every Sunday to go to their separate programs.

O'Brien's encouragements are helpful. His observations are adept. He argues that churches, like people, should not compare themselves to everyone else. Instead, they should embrace their unique gifts and their unique opportunities in their context, and build the kingdom in concert with the unique gifts God gave them.

Much wisdom and help can be found for the member and pastor of the small church in THE STRATEGICALLY SMALL CHURCH. I would love to see my minister group read this, as well as my congregational leadership team.


This book was provided by Bethany House Publishers in return for an honest review.

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