The cover art of Jason Byassee's The Gifts of the Small Church may give the wrong impression. With its ceramic serving dish, quilted pot holders, and soft, sacred light, the cover may communicate that the book is a collection of sentimental reflections on the virtues of humble, homey country churches.
Don't be deceived.
For the first couple years of their marriage, Byassee and his wife, both United Methodist ministers, pastored three churches at once. Jason served one, and his wife had a "two-point charge" (two churches that share a pastor). The book is a reflection on their experiences—experiences that convinced Byassee that the small church is "God's primary way of saving the world." Instead of talking about why the small church is a (or the) problem in American Christianity today, Byassee artfully demonstrates how it's an important part of the solution.
But his purpose is not to promote a style or model for ministry. He doesn't advocate for particular leadership qualities or principles. Byassee doesn't try to tell pastors how to make their small churches larger. Instead, (and I think this is fantastic) Byassee's approach is perfectly suited to the subject matter. In rural places (in the South at least), when you ask a question, you get a story in response. This is Byassee's tactic.
To the question, "What do you mean that the small church is God's solution?" he answers by telling stories and distilling their lessons.
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