How can a small church do big things? By making an eternal impact in the lives of people.
Keith Davis has been the pastor of Zion Hill Baptist Church in Spartanburg for almost 21 years. The church is relatively small in number but is making a spiritual impact in the lives of people in the Spartanburg area.
“After 20 years of pastoring Zion Hill, I am happier today than I was the first day I walked in. We see God at work, we have vision for the future, and we understand our strengths and weaknesses,” he said, noting that people who join Zion Hill typically mention two things: the warmth of the people and an emphasis on the Word of God.
“We are not trying to be what God has called another church to be,” he stated. “We try to be evangelistic, but with a focus on souls, not numbers.” In his book, “The Vibrant Small Church,” he writes, “Some small churches are concerned about what they cannot do. But we should be doing what we can for the Lord.”
Davis said the church is thankful for the great things the Lord has done over the years. For several years, they joined with other small to mid-sized churches in special crusades that “impacted lives.” From 2006 to 2010, the crusades yielded 600 professions of faith, concluding with services in Spartanburg Memorial Auditorium attended by 3,100 people. “Working together with other pastors and churches brought great unity, encouragement, and purpose in God’s kingdom work,” he said.
“We just finished a 10-year mission partnership with a church on the island of Cape Breton in Nova Scotia, Canada,” he said. Zion Hill saw its attendance going up and down and realized they needed more space in order to maintain consistency. “We remodeled our gym and made it our worship center in 2019. This has allowed us to continue to grow even during the COVID-19 era,” he said, adding that the remodeling project is now debt-free.
The church also began to broadcast its services on social media before COVID-19. Davis noted that this ministry continues to grow. “We have people watching and responding through comments, texts and emails that include other counties and states. We continue to reach out to the homeless. Recently, a Sunday school class, along with other members of the church, prepared soup to give out in a parking lot near a homeless shelter. They also prepared 50 backpacks containing blankets, gloves, hand warmers, toboggans, and cookies just before winter,” he added.
Davis says that the purpose of the small church is the same as larger churches. “There is no requirement for the size of the church when it comes to fulfilling our purpose. What it does take is faith, obedience, and love,” he writes in his book.
He cites eight keys to a healthy small church: sound biblical doctrine, intentional prayer, true love in relationships, a focus on Christ, missions in action, genuine obedience to Christ, spiritual growth, and biblical evaluation. “God knows our abilities and spiritual gifts as well as our limitations. He knows where we belong to fulfill His purposes.”
The church continues to grow and reach out in various ways. Looking back on more than 20 years of ministry at the same church, he said, “We are thankful to have seen the Lord do some great things over the years.”