In The Gift of Small: Embracing Your Church's Vocation, Allen Stanton argues that small-membership congregations can be faithful, vital, and viable. He encourages clergy and lay leaders of these churches to reexamine their congregation's potential and celebrate the vocation of being small.
Small-membership congregations have long accounted for the majority of congregations in the United States. Despite this, church leadership resources often assume good leadership will result in church growth. Stanton shows how the assumption that healthy churches are growing churches fails to acknowledge the demographics of the communities that many small-membership churches serve and creates the perception that small congregations are failing or lack vitality.
In part one of The Gift of Small, Stanton explores the importance of relationships to the theological identity and organizational leadership of the small-membership church. Part two examines the people who belong to and participate in small-membership congregations and the assets they bring to the congregation. Part three focuses on role of the small church as a place of vocational discovery and source of community leadership. The book concludes with a look at Jesus's teachings in which small objects become agents of transformation.
Ultimately, this book seeks to dispel the myth that small-membership churches are failing and instead demonstrates how congregations might be faithful to a vocation of "being small." By embracing the importance of relationships, understanding the gifts of their members, and focusing their work, small-membership churches can be examples of vitality without the distraction of "church growth."