January 2022 Resource

Small on Purpose
Small on Purpose: Life in a Significant Church


Lewis A. Parks


Abingdon Press, Nashville, TN

Book Review By:

Melvin Amerson

Premise of the book:
Small congregations can remain viable when they reassess and reimagine their focus and mission, while emphasizing their strengths for ministry.

What this book does:
Dr. Parks is a noted author, professor and expert on small churches, writes an excellent book on his experience of returning to pastoring a declining congregation, while sharing from his wealth of knowledge on small congregations. He provides theological foundations and practical ideas for guiding small congregations or churches experiencing declining membership and attendance. The first chapter entitled is “An Exercise in Selective Amnesia” sets the tone for the book. Each chapter in this resource offers scripture, ideas, and experiences from the view of a small church pastor.


Chapter 1: An Exercise in Selective Amnesia
Chapter 2: Maintaining Worship
Chapter 3: Soul Care
Chapter 4: Order
Chapter 5: Buildings

Chapter 6: A Significant Church

What are some important insights:

The author provides excellent insights on the transition of a large church becoming a small congregation, and small faith communities in general. “The small church exists and endures because it is a strong Spirit-animated organism, a whole with interdependent parts pulling in the same direction, a small living system that balances its internal energies and successfully negotiates its external encounters.” (p. 79)

Possibilities as a resource for churches:
This is a must-read resource for denominational leaders, clergy, and laity who want to the small church to remain vibrant and vital.

Melvin Amerson

The Rev. Melvin Amerson is a member of the Texas Annual Conference and serves as a Resource Specialist and Area Representative at TMF. His experience and passion lie in encouraging and developing generous, faithful leaders and congregations.

Amerson is the author of Celebrating the Offering, Fruit for Celebrating the Offering, and Stewardship in African American Churches: A New Paradigm, as well as several articles covering topics from generosity, leadership, and visioning. He served as a board member of the Ecumenical Stewardship Center until it was dissolved in 2021 and is currently serving on the Texas Annual Conference Church Leadership Team. He is a nationally recognized generosity consultant known for his engaging presentations. Beyond strengthening congregational leaders, one of his favorite ways to use his skills is to empower Wesley Foundation staff to effectively fund their college ministries.

Melvin obtained a Bachelor of Business Administration degree from Texas A&M University in Corpus Christi, an M.Div degree concentrating in Christian education from Gammon Theological Seminary in Atlanta, Georgia, an Executive Leadership certificate from Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, and a certificate in Professional Fundraising from Boston University. Recently, he completed a fundraising certificate with the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy.