STEWARDSHIP IN THE SMALL CHURCH A Reflection by H. Fred Bernhard

The following post is taken from the Canton Chronicle, Vol 2017 #4.  This article was written by the editor of The Canton Chronicle, Martha Harr. 

If you haven’t perused eBrethren, an online Brethren publication, try it sometime. It provides thought-provoking topics through the eyes of many Brethren. You may even recognize some of the authors, especially if you have attended any COB Annual Conferences. The author of the article excerpted here is an example of an extremely likeable and knowledgeable Brethren figure. When Harold and I went to Germany, Austria, and the Netherlands to attend the 300th anniversary celebration, Fred was in charge of leading our travel group and keeping us all “corralled.” That was quite a task, but he succeeded. Fred is an ordained minister in the Church of the Brethren and has served as a pastor and interim pastor in many congregations.

“Small congregations usually view themselves as congregations with limited resources, both financial and in people skills. Pastors of these congregations hear these responses: ‘We can’t do that; we don’t have enough money.’ ‘We don’t have the time to do that; all of us are already too busy.’ ‘We’re not like the big church down the street. Let them do that.’

“From my own experience, I can testify that a bigger worshiping community does not mean a more effective church. Size may make multiple programs possible, but congregational vitality can be achieved in congregations of all sizes.

“The common denominator is passion. Congregations who possess passion know that they can make a difference for Christ in their community and around the world. They know that, no matter how small, they can do big things for God. The secret is a passion for a purposeful, mission-driven, congregational life. Persons are drawn to such churches because they also want to serve.”


Fred continued to give examples of congregations who didn’t let their size deter them from working for their passions for mission. Does that sound familiar? If not, I would remind you of a congregation near and dear to our hearts that is currently making that happen with the following: a Blessing Box; rain barrels; birthday celebrations; educational classes on church doctrine and the book of James, mini-workshops on Buddhism; bookstudy of the novel, Siddhartha; perusal and study of the local church family’s history; and much, much more to come. Just sayin’!

According to Fred, “That congregation experienced a mindset change: from scarcity to abundance. What no one thought possible became a reality when they caught the vision and their compassion fulfilled the mission. In simple terms, they put their hands where their mouths were. It’s a spiritual condition, isn’t it?”

He continued, “When your congregation, however small, puts its trust in God and changes your attitude from scarcity to abundance, amazing things will happen—things beyond your wildest imagination.”

Good things are happening around the Canton Church of the Brethren!

—Martha A. Harr

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