Bo Wagner is pastor of the Cornerstone Baptist Church of Mooresboro, NC, a widely traveled evangelist, and the author of several books. His books are available on Amazon and at www.wordofhismouth.com
To begin with, let me disclose that I do not know Lecrae, whose real name seems to be Lecrae Moore. I only became aware of him recently when I saw his name and some comments being discussed on X, formerly known as Twitter. I was intrigued by what I was seeing, so I did a bit of searching around and found a clip from a podcast in which he was discussing the local church. He said, “People say, ‘I need to see you in church on Sunday!’ and I’m like, why? So I can be, like, one out of two thousand people, and I don’t have to speak to a soul? So I can listen to a great message that I could have listened to at my house?”
By this point in the column, you are perhaps wondering what Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer has to do with any of this.
It was this past Sunday morning, December 3. The attendance at our morning worship was a bit lower than normal; the flu is running rampant right now. We still had a good crowd, though, which was a blessing. Mind you, our church has 235 active attendees, so a “good crowd” may not look quite to us like it does to others in larger towns, but I was still pretty encouraged.
In lots of small-town churches, fellowship time is still a thing. For us, right after the morning offering, a time of fellowship is called while the pianist continues to play. People spend about five minutes milling about, shaking hands, exchanging hugs, and catching up. And in our church, it is normally a time when a bunch of little crumb-crunchers run up onto the platform to hug me, show me their new shoes or clothes (or, in some cases, their Batman mask – pastoring in a small town church is pretty unique!), or tell me how their week went.
But on this particular day, a precious and shy little girl of about four years old came to the platform but did not climb the steps up onto it. She just stood there by herself for a bit as if she wanted to be noticed. So I came down the steps that she was standing beside, sat down on them, and asked her how she was doing. She grinned from ear to ear and handed me her Rudolph stuffed animal.
I knew that toy; I had given it to her the week before. It was from last year’s Christmas play (we needed a dog at the last minute, could not find one, bought the Rudolph, covered his nose, and no one noticed. Like I said, pastoring in a small town church is pretty unique), and when she saw it, she lit up, so I gave it to her. And now, a week later, she was bringing it to the altar to show me that she was still taking good care of it.
I looked over the Rudolph, told her I was proud of her for taking such good care of him, and handed him back. She gleefully skipped back to her seat, and we went on with the service.
At some point, the Lecrae interview and the Rudolph moment intersected in my mind; thus, this column.
I have no clue what church or churches Mr. Moore has been to; it sounds like they have all been pretty big. And I am not denigrating big churches in any way; I certainly want mine to grow as large as God would be pleased with. I guess what I am doing, though, is encouraging anyone who feels disconnected in a mega church to do one of two things. Either intentionally connect with those in that big church on a personal level or check out one of the vast majority of smaller or mid-sized churches that are such a blessing across the land.
As for the smaller or mid-sized churches (at 235, ours is considered mid-sized by most common metrics), the data I have seen indicate that there are roughly 282,000 of them in America; they are definitely not hard to find. And not only do I pastor one of them, I preach revivals and special meetings in different ones of them around forty times a year, so I think I know them reasonably well.
And I love them.
These small to mid churches are where, when someone dies, the grieving family is going to be overwhelmed with enough food to feed a small army. People have a hard time finding fitting words, so they opt for potato salad and hugs. They are also where, when someone in the community is very sick or down on their luck, the church grounds become the site of a benefit spaghetti dinner or car show to raise funds for them.
Small to mid churches are where people confide in each other about lost loved ones and then go to the altar to weep and pray together and continue to pray about it until they get saved. They are also where, when a young wife has a miscarriage and goes to the altar to cry, every other lady in church who has previously experienced that same heartache gathers around her at the altar to pray and cry with her.
Small to mid churches not only support missionaries, they know them by name. Small to mid churches also generally have multiple generations of family sitting together each week. In my church, we have one family that has four generations all together each week. Small to mid churches have kids that grow up in the youth choir and then later see their own kids standing and singing where they once did.
And Rudolph; we have little girls with Rudolph.
Pastor Wagner can be contacted by email at email@example.com, and his books are available by clicking the “Store” link above.
Feature photo by Pastor Bo Wagner