BY: Reverend Sid Hopkins, Pastor of Horizon Baptist Church
Mega churches in the area offer a lot of great quality programs, studies and messages. And, they draw a high number of people! Because of what they provide, who would consider attending a small church when the larger churches seem to give you so much more? Are smaller churches destined to die a slow and painful death?
Not everyone wants the big church. While larger churches have their advantages, smaller churches have a lot to highlight too! In a small church environment you will enjoy getting to know people as well as being personally known, visited and prayed for by your pastor, especially when you are sick. Much like the theme song to the sitcom Cheers, it’s nice to go to a place where everyone knows your name–and cares deeply about your soul, and even how your week went. It’s nice to know and be known spiritually and to be personally encouraged in your faith.
Pastoring a smaller church has its challenges. The financial margins are tighter, and quality volunteers are fewer. But, I have loved the people of God’s little church, Horizon Baptist Church, which sits on the corner of Lawrenceville-Suwanee and Taylor Roads in Suwanee. I admire the spunk and commitment of its people and the sacrifices they make to be a positive influence in their community. They also make a major difference in kids’ lives as hundreds of children from birth through second grade, from over twenty nations, attend our Horizon Christian School and learn basic life rules along with reading and writing. In other church programs, like Awanas, kids memorize Scripture and learn about missions.
Horizon has done the hard work of bridging the cultural divide. On any given Sunday, people who worship with us span the ethnic spectrum, hailing from countries such as China, Cameroon, Mexico, South Korea, Ethiopia, and India—a fellowship that is as diverse as Gwinnett County itself. I believe that this rich diversity pleases God and reverses Martin Luther King Jrs’ sad comment once that the most segregated place in America is in a typical church on Sunday morning. Horizon embraces and celebrates cultural diversity.
This small church sends its members out on mission. Members serve literally around the world in places like Haiti, Mexico, China, Nigeria, Russia, Alaska and Moldova. They lead medical clinics, minister to dog-sled teams, engage in children’s ministry and witness for Christ at the Olympics.
In a smaller church like Horizon, your gifts and talents can make a huge difference! Only you and God can sort out whether you belong in a big church or in a smaller church. You can grow spiritually wherever God needs you and it is important to find the right fit for you. Dedicated believers serve well in both environments. But the day of the smaller church is definitely not over yet!
You may contact Reverend Hopkins at Hopkins.firstname.lastname@example.org