By Greg Petrie, District Representative, Northwest District
“What can we do? We’re a small church. We’re just a group of old people. We don’t have the ministries and programs like Church X or Church Y to attract families.”
The Limitations of the Small Church
Sometimes those in the rural and small church get discouraged. They start comparing themselves to other churches—after all, everyone else does—and feel inadequate. They begin to evaluate themselves based on what they don’t have and can’t do.
Sometimes though, those small and rural churches forget about the comparisons and expectations and simply ask, “What can we do with who and what God has given us?” One such church is the church Village Missions serves with in Bryant, Washington.
Bryant Community Church, a small church congregation of about 30 (mostly senior citizens) meets in a Grange building. Bryant is not the same kind of rural that it was 40 or so years ago. Most people that live in the area now commute to places like Everett and the Seattle region for work. Very few engage in agriculture or raising dairy cattle anymore. About the only structures in “town” are the Grange building and a small store. There is not much to create a sense and unity of community. Those who do choose to go to church have lots of choices—including places with great facilities and programs to offer for the whole family.
When the Small Church Steps Up
The Bryant Community Church, while not large, makes an impact for the Kingdom of God nonetheless. A group of 4-6 of the women has a ministry they call “Stitched With Joy.” These ladies sew together. In 2011 they began to sew some basic dresses out of bright, colorful fabric. Then, in October 2012 they partnered with a missionary on furlough, sending 100 dresses to Micronesia to be given to girls. Many of these girls would rarely get a brand new dress—especially one so bright and cheerful.
These ladies continued to sew, using donated fabric. On at least one occasion they received the prized fabric collection of a lady that passed away and whose daughter wanted it to go to a good, specific cause. They continued to connect with other missionaries. On one occasion they sent 1000 dresses to Uganda. They estimate that they have made and given away over 2500 dresses to not only Micronesia and Uganda, but places like Mexico, Bolivia, Haiti, and Sierra Leone. These ladies recently began making boys’ shorts also, and, as of early March, were preparing to send 300 dresses and 50 pairs of shorts to Micronesia. They had made 182 fleece scarves that they gave to an area Salvation Army to give out to the homeless.
These ladies like to partner with missionaries on furlough who can take the clothes back with them to help save on shipping costs since, as a small church, they don’t always have a lot of extra funds.
Only God knows how much encouragement and joy these dresses have been to the girls that have received them as well as an aid to the missionaries who are handing them out as a tangible expression that someone cares for them because God cares for them. “Stitched With Joy” may be a small band of senior ladies in a place that many people may not even notice, but they are certainly catching the attention and pleasure of their Lord.
What can you – one individual, one group, one small church – do?