Part 1: Who Are We?
In her book Christian Education in the Small Membership Church, Karen Tye reviews the tendency of churches in America to want to “Super Size” their churches, much as we do our burger meals. She emphasizes however, that small churches are not just smaller, but also, different from their larger counterparts, and that we must realize this as we plan any programs in our churches, perhaps especially Christian Education programs. Smaller is not only different, but in some respects, better for the purposes of educating our children. While there are certainly differences between our Orthodox Churches and the Protestant ones she focuses on, most of the generalities she discusses run true for us also.
The first step in planning Christian Education programs in the smaller church, Tye says, is to evaluate what you have in your particular church. There are certain characteristics of all small churches:
- There’s a strong sense of community
- It’s like a family
- It has deep traditions
- There is a high percentage of participation
- The organizational structure tends to be simple in nature
- Worship is the prime activity
While some of these characteristics may show up very strongly in one church, another may find different characteristics more true for them. Deciding what your church “is,” involves evaluating the degree to which each is applicable in your case.