Small Church, Big Footprint
by Karen Thompson Blandino
“God has not called me to be successful; He has called me to be faithful.” –Mother Teresa
About five years ago my husband and I made the decision to say “yes” to God’s call to plant a church in the cultural arts district of Fort Worth. The last five years have produced a myriad of celebrations, uncertainties, and emotions.
Some seasons have been phenomenal as we experienced growth and excitement as new believers made 7 City their home church.
Other seasons have been less than exciting.
Although we expect, and maybe even plan for, difficult seasons, slow growth can still take an emotional toll on planters. Looking at social media can escalate slightly negative emotions into irrational thinking: “Oh great, every church in America is growing except mine!” Friends who like to “inquire” about attendance and then offer their unsolicited advice can also add to the strain. Stagnant numbers can wear planters out.
During an attendance slump, I was sharing (maybe complaining) with a friend about our numbers. Her response to me was so beautiful:
"We can have a small, impactful, healthy church that does more for the Kingdom than a giant mega-church. We have got to stop buying into the lie that growth is about numbers of people. I’ve said it before. I think our church is a training ground for people at a particular point in their life. Our job is to train them to influence culture."
I really appreciated her willingness to listen, her encouragement, and her correction of my skewed thinking.
We may be considered a small church, but we’re leaving a big footprint. Over the last five years we’ve partnered with five church planters to help them start a new church in the heart of culturally influential cities. We’ve invested in missions, humanitarian efforts, and local non-profits. Dozens of people have found Christ, connected with other Christians, and grown in their faith. Recently, we launched the bravest vision initiative we’ve ever attempted as a church…a vision that will positively impact our church, city, and culture.
It takes many footprints to transform a community.
No single church, regardless of how big it is, can single-handedly change a community. It takes a lot of churches, big and small, leaving footprints. All footprints matter.
Over the last five years, we have learned that just because you’re small doesn’t mean you can’t dream big, think big, believe big, give big, and love big.
Your “big” might look small to a large church in your community, but size isn’t the real issue. The real issue is how you steward the resources (people, money, time, facilities, opportunities) that God has entrusted to you. If the parable of the talents teaches us anything it’s that faithfulness isn’t defined by how much you have, but what you do with it.
We may be a small church, but our faithful stewardship is allowing us to make a big impact. And it can for you too.
No matter what size your church might be today, choose to dream big. Choose to leave a big footprint by wisely stewarding what God has entrusted to you. As you do, don’t be surprised if God opens bigger doors.
What are some ways your church can leave a big footprint in your community?
"His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’" –Matthew 25:21
Karen Blandino is a pastor's wife, Texan, mother, and counselor. She holds a Master's Degree in Counseling from TCU and a Bachelor of Arts in History from UTA. Karen and her husband, Stephen, planted 7 City Church in Fort Worth, Texas, where they serve as lead pastors. Karen is the co-author of Unexpected: What to do when God disrupts your plans. She blogs about healing, friendship and connection at karenblandino.com