My church in Truro, N.S., is small. It has fewer than 100 members and fewer than 50 regular attendees. We’re also located outside of Truro’s downtown core. Like many congregations across North America, this past spring was hard on my community. Really hard. Our small church wanted to help.
As a diaconal coach for Diaconal Ministries Canada, I often hear stories of big churches doing amazing community ministry, especially in times of crisis. It is easy for deacons in my church to feel discouraged about our smallness. Yet we know we have a faithful congregation that loves to work together.
Our church has worked through the “Discover Your Gifts” workshops, so everyone is aware of the areas of giftedness they can contribute. We also know the value of collaboration. While we can’t be all things to all people, we can partner with and support other local organizations doing great work. During the COVID-19 crisis, our church leaned into both of these to love and serve our community.
Several church members with gifts of service and hospitality had extra time on their hands for cooking. The deacons worked with them to arrange weekly meals for seniors, families with young kids, members’ friends who had fallen on hard times, and anyone else who wanted or needed meals. We thank God for those with gifts of administration who made this possible!
We also used our gifts to reach out to families with young children. Some of our church’s teachers donated books, games, and homemade toys and made care packages for these families. Another former deacon, an early-childhood educator, posted a children’s story time each week, inviting each child of our congregation by name to watch and listen.
After all the local parks had closed down, families in the neighborhood began using the church parking lot to get outside, socially distancing as they played hopscotch, biked, or drew with chalk.
While our diaconate always has funds and groceries for anyone requiring assistance, they don’t always have ways to reach those most in need—or even know who they are. Our deacons asked some local organizations how we could join in their work. We donated grocery gift cards to the local homeless shelter and to a new refugee family. We gave financial support to a Christian counseling service. Those in our congregation who have baking skills launched a “Ministry of Muffins” for the local family resource center. We thank God for these organizations that spread love to people in our town and the opportunity to connect with our neighbors through them.
Yes, we are a small church, but we serve a mighty God who gives us gifts and abilities and who multiplies our work when it's done for God’s glory. Though we can’t launch big, flashy responses in times of need, we continue to find ways to use our gifts to do a whole bunch of little things, both to uphold and encourage one another and to reach out to our community.
Small things done with great love can make a big difference!