May 10, 2019

The Little Church That Could

Even pastors need to learn little lessons in faith and holy boldness every so often. Earlier this year, it was my turn. It happened in a little church in Lancaster, Tennessee, United States.

In January 2018, the Lancaster Seventh-day Adventist Church had about 20 members in attendance. The church's last big, successful evangelism endeavor had been in 1996. For the past 22 years, attendance had plateaued. 

Dissatisfied with the status quo, church members decided to do something about it. First, they fervently prayed. Then, they contacted It Is Written Ministries to arrange for a Bible study request-card mailing in their area.

So Far, So Good

Once they had arranged for the mailing, they connected with me to get some tips on how to follow up on the cards. I asked them how many cards they had mailed out, and their response floored me. Almost 10,000 cards were mailed.

I was speechless as I quickly did the math in my mind. The average response rate for It Is Written Bible study request cards is 10 requests per 1,000 cards mailed. Thus, my friends in Lancaster could expect to receive about 100 cards. One hundred cards for 20 members to follow up! How on earth could they do that, especially since those cards were scattered over four counties?

At that moment, I was a present-day doubting Thomas. I shared with them my reservations. They responded, “Don’t worry; we’ll get it done.”

As time progressed, I was proven wrong on two counts. First, the church did not receive 100 cards. It received an excess of 140 cards!

Second, the members organized themselves for work and diligently began to follow up every single card. Today, every card has been followed up on, many Bible studies are taking place, and the attendance at church has jumped to about 30. That is 33-percent growth in less than a year.


“Jane” is one of the new people attending the Lancaster church as a result of the mailing. She began weeping when a couple of the church members knocked on her door to deliver the Bible lesson she’d requested.

She explained to them that she had been waiting for a long time to study the Bible. She now participates every week in a Bible study and is very happy to have found a loving church that she can call home.

The church family is extremely energized by what they are experiencing and have no plans to slow down. They’re preparing to do another mailing in two more ZIP codes. They’re eager to find more people who are seeking and searching for something better in life.

I learned my lesson. Never underestimate the power of God working through church members who rely on Him. Indeed, the Lancaster church is the little church that could.

The original version of this commentary was posted on the Southern Tidings news site.