Matthew 18:20 says, “For where two or three are gathered in my (God’s) name, there am I among them.”
St. Paul Lutheran Church may have just 25 members attending in a month, but part-time pastor Tom Hallstrom said their group is going strong.
“It’s small but very lively,” Hallstrom said. “Lots of people think we’re getting ready to lock the doors but that’s not the case.”
Hallstrom has been with the church since 2013, and estimated that though they have 35 to 50 members on the books, only 25 were active.
“We’ll see probably not all in one Sunday,” Hallstrom said, “but throughout the month, we’ll see probably 25 of our members.”
There are members of every age group, including younger adults and their children.
“That’s a real rush for us, to have younger people there representing the future,” Hallstrom said.
The church is thriving with so few members, Hallstrom said, because of how committed the congregation is.
“The people who come and participate are very committed,” Hallstrom said. “They are committed not only with their time and talent, but also their financial resources as well.”
Though the church has had some money coming in from financial instruments and certificates of deposit, Hallstrom said they are closer to not needing to dip into those funds.
“It has been very evident that in the last few months to a year, we have come closer to taking care of ourselves with our offerings,” Hallstrom said. “That is a good thing.”
One con about the size of the congregation is that they do not have all the resources they need to do what they want to do.
“There’s just no way we can do all of the ministries we’d like to do in Peabody,” Hallstrom said, “so we have to pick and choose carefully what we want to do and what we can do.”
One church project is called “Good Gifts,” where churches raise money to help provide poultry and produce for third world countries.
For every dollar a member donates, a chicken can be bought and distributed throughout countries where they are very important sources of food.
“We have had really good response to that,” Hallstrom said. “So we are doing that as far as a reach beyond the walls of our congregations. This one turns out to be quite good.”
The church also has sponsored an annual blood drive in October.
“We try to be a part of the community as much as we possibly can,” Hallstrom said.
An advantage to being small, Hallstrom said, is that the congregation “becomes a real family.”
“They become extremely dependent upon each other and they look after each other,” Hallstrom said.
Another positive is that there is less stress on Hallstrom.
“I really enjoy the fact that the stress of helping to manage a congregation is so much less than a larger congregation,” Hallstrom said. “I think it’s a lot less stress and worry.”
Because of their small size, Hallstrom said, everyone participates in Sunday worship.
“Everyone has a role,” Hallstrom said. “You don’t come to our congregation to hide. There’s no place to hide. Here, you are very much out in the open and you will get put to work, which is good.”
Hallstrom said that if one or two families joined each year, that would help maintain the church for the future.
“We don’t need a great big number of people,” Hallstrom said. “What we need is committed people who are willing to put their best foot forward and become a part of the family.”