Your Church Can Be Like a Small Town

I still remember the weekend I took one of my college roommates to my hometown. When we arrived in Brantley I realized that my roommate from Birmingham and I didn’t have many things in common. We both were Baptist, from the state of Alabama, and our hometowns began with the same letter. Apart from that, we had grown up very differently.

This became apparent to me as we drove down Main Street in Brantley. The downtown area of Brantley is literally one block long, something like 300 yards. As we drove through the downtown area, my friend looked at me and said you wave to everybody in town, except for the town drunk.

I laughed and said I would never leave out the town drunk.

It became clear to me that I was part of a community where I felt known, loved, and accepted. He had not grown up in that kind of place and didn’t have any appreciation for it.

Shouldn’t the church engender the same feelings as the town where you grew up and where people knew you? Isn’t the church a place where I should feel known, loved, and accepted?

The truth is that even in a small town you don’t know everybody. Some people estimate that most of us really know about 100 people. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t love, appreciate, and accept people that you don’t know.

How can we make our church like a small town?

First, look people in the eye, smile, and speak to them. A “hello” or “good morning” or “how are you” really doesn’t cost us anything but it expresses so much to the person receiving it. Most people are really a little intimidated when they go to a new church. You can make a difference with the small things.

Second, act like a host not a guest. My college roommate was a guest. He didn’t have permission to greet everyone. Since I was the host, I did. When we act and think like a host in our church, it makes a world of difference.

Third, go out of your way to be helpful to other people. Help them find where they need to go and how to get there. Little things really matter.

Though my college roommate was out of his comfort zone, he had a great weekend at Brantley. He enjoyed the time because we treated him like a guest, and he received it well.

You and I can make church feel like a small town when we reach out in love, acceptance, and care for others.

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2 Comments


  1. The Millers
    Sep 27, 2014

    Waylon our church seemed huge the first time we visited. Which door do we enter, where do we go now that we’re in, who are all these people? There were many waiting to help. The help started with that one friend who just refused to stop inviting us.
    Our church grew very small very fast because of the welcome, genuine friendship and love we received. Our family and others who have visited over the years experienced the same. Hearts and minds were opened to hear The Gospel! Our family has realized a change for good, for God.
    I rededicated my life to Christ after decades of distance, rebellion. Duffy realized salvation wasn’t about being a “good guy”. The surrender was so sweet after two years of intense struggle. You led the way praying with him as he accepted Christ as his Saviour. We pray for the sweetness of surrender for our whole family.
    Thank You Jesus! Thank You Church! We love you!!!


    • Waylon
      Sep 29, 2014

      Thanks for an up-to-date testimony of how the church can really reach out to those who are not yet members.

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About Waylon

I am the senior pastor of First Baptist Church, Covington, Louisiana, a position that I have held since 1989.

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but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. — Isaiah 40:31 (NIV)