Can I shoot straight with you? Up until about four years ago, I had no idea what a small group was. When it was explained to me, I thought, Oh, so basically my Sunday School class.
The church I grew up in didn’t have small groups or large groups. It didn’t have screens for lyrics and message notes. And it for sure didn’t have a band.
My church ran about 50 on a good Sunday. My dad was the head deacon, the adult Sunday School teacher and the maintenance man. My youth leader was a full-time cop who volunteered to lead us, often with his gun and handcuffs on his hip. And my youth group was about four other girls my age. A small group, essentially.
We didn’t have a ton, because we didn’t have a lot of resources. As I got older, I had opportunities to be a part and serve at churches who had a plethora of resources, and those even further helped strengthen my understanding of who God is. But can I tell you that there is no other place in my life that has taught me to love and serve others more than that little church in the middle of nowhere.
This is what I’m saying: Fifty attendees or 5,000—your church matters. Because, while your church may have a paid staff of zero and a volunteer staff of a few that do multiple jobs, that is not what the kids in your church will remember. The kids in your church will remember that there were adults who cared about them and stayed consistent in their lives, regardless of whether they wore Carhartts or skinny jeans.
What I love so much about Orange is that we believe that every church matters. And we create resources for every kind of church. We’re not a one-size-fits-all deal. We don’t expect the little country church down the road to do it the way the big church in the city does. We make it possible for both of those different bodies to make the same strong impact on the kids and families in their church.
For instance, Victory Baptist Church in Rockmart, Ga., started slow and steady with XP3 high school a few years ago. Traditionally, they had always had Sunday School, and students would also attend services with the adults on Sundays and Wednesdays. First, Sunday School teachers started using the featured videos and small group questions. As those grew, the students needed more space. Their youth pastor started student nights on Wednesdays using the script as a guideline for his messages, and having some of the Sunday School teachers and leaders start leading small groups during their typical Sunday School time. In the last two years, Victory’s student ministry has grown so much that they are the first church in their community to need a high school and middle school ministry separate from each other. They understand small group culture and they’re seeing kids develop a faith of their own.
Bigger doesn’t always mean better. The key is consistency. Showing up over and over again. The beauty of the Orange Strategy is that it allows you to do that without having to think so much about what you’re going to teach. It allows you to focus on showing up.
Because when you show up, it matters. You matter. Big or small.