Tag: les puryear

The differences in old small churches and new small churches

Knox Life Church at Remedy Coffee in Knoxville, TN
Knox Life Church at Remedy Coffee in Knoxville, TN

Les Puryear posted an interesting list of small church distinctives this week.  His list got me to thinking about the possible differences in “old” small churches and “new” small churches.

By “old” I mean what we typically think of as a small church whether it’s in a rural, small town, suburban, or even urban setting.  “Old” means established and conventional.  By conventional I mean that an old small church has worship; usually has one pastor and maybe some part-time staff;  focuses on typical church programs and activities; and operates primarily on gifts from its members.

By “new” I mean churches that have taken new models, like KnoxLife Church in Knoxville, TN that operates a coffee shop and meets in that same space for its weekly gathering.  Matthew’s Table in Lebanon, TN is another example of what I call a “marketplace” church — a church that runs a business to create revenue and engage its community, but also has some forms of conventional church such as a weekly worship gathering.

My guess is that in these “new” small churches, pastoral care is performed by more than just the pastor (if there is a solo pastor in the new church).  And, some of these small churches have multiple leaders, some (or all ) of whom may not be paid anything.

My point is we may have to rethink what we mean when we say “small church.”  Neomonastic communities are small churches, marketplace churches are small churches, mission-driven groups like Scott Linklater’s church in Las Vegas are small churches, but none of these would have all the common characteristics of conventional small churches.

We might need whole new categories to distinguish conventional churches from unconventional.  Personally, I think the “un-s” are the group to watch for clues to the future of all churches.  But, that’s just my opinion.  What do you think?

How does your church observe Martin Luther King Day?

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. preaching Does your church have special plans to observe Martin Luther King Day on Monday, January 21, 2008?  I wish I could tell you our church has observed MLK Day before, but that’s not true.  Like most white congregations, we just didn’t mention it.  We did close the office last year out of respect for our African-American neighbors, but that was all we did.

This year I am happy to say that we are hosting an MLK Day event.  We were asked to host the youngest African-American CEO of a publicly traded company in the US, Ephren Taylor.  Mr. Taylor is a 25-year old millionaire entrepreneur, and will bring a message of hope and encouragement to our community which is undergoing tremendous economic challenges.

But we were asked to host this event because we also host the Boys and Girls Club of Chatham at our church.   By our willingness to open our facilities to others, especially the children of our community, our church is becoming known as a uniter.   If you think racism is not a part of 21st century church culture, read Les Puryear’s blog posts, “Are Southern Baptists Racist?” and a follow-up here.  Les pastors a multi-ethnic, multi-racial congregation in North Carolina, and lives spiritual leadership on this issue.

This year talk about what you can do to honor the memory of the late Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., pastor, civil rights leader, and Nobel Peace Prize laureate.  MLKDay.gov has excellent resources for observing “a day on, not a day off.”  Even the simple gesture of closing the church office will be recognized and appreciated in your community.   Small steps toward racial reconciliation will mean a great deal to those who have experienced social injustice.