I had the high honor and pleasure of vicaring in a small church — about 75 people. It was great. For my own self, I got to do everything — I got to be the pastor for a whole year. When I was done, I didn’t want to leave and the people didn’t want me to leave. The church I serve currently isn’t big by some standards either (150 members — but it keeps me busy!) I’ve learned firsthand that what Walther reminds us of in this quote is true. Christ is not more interested in the larger churches, not like we are. He values every soul and every gathering of souls, no matter how small or humble or insignificant they may seem on the outside. If you’re small, you can be kept from some of the puffed-up self-righteousness that can pervade larger congregations. Look at us. We make so much money, we have such great buildings, our staff is so impressive. All vanity. Whether big or small, we should all value the things that make the church — the Word and the Sacraments.
Suppose someone thought, “Now, if the congregation is very large and there are many outstanding men in it, then I’ll be satisfied [to take a call there].” But what kind of congregations do we have? Many of them consist of seven to ten families. Do they have great power like the congregation in Jerusalem, which had many thousands of members? Or the one at Rome, which also counted its members in the thousands? Yes, it makes no difference. For according to Matt. 18[:20] our Lord adds: “Where two or three are gathered in My name, there I am in the midst of them. “ Accordingly, if only two or three Christians were present, the Lord would be present too, and He proves that the congregation has such great power by this, that He is in their midst. And when He is present, it is not a half- or a quarter-Christ, but the entire Savior. Yes, even a small rural congregation of seven families has as much power as all the congregations in America combined, because it also has Jesus in its midst, with all His grace and all the rights and merits He won for us on the tree of the cross.
That is why the same Heshusius [Lutheran theologian] says: “A small group of 10 or 20 people, who truly confess Christ, has just as much power in the kingdom of Christ as does a congregation with thousands of members.” (Concerning the Office and Power of Pastors, published by Dr. Schutz, Leipzig, 1854, p. 65.)
Let everyone who is in such a tiny little congregation take note and know that church matters are not like worldly matters. – We rejoice that we are in the United States of North America, which constitute such a great, glorious nation. Here not every fool can come and disturb the peace, as perhaps in the smaller countries (Staaten) of South America. But it is different in the kingdom of God. The smallest congregation is just as important as the largest one, and the largest is no more important than the smallest, because every congregation is great only because Christ is present in it.
— C.F.W. Walther, The Duties of An Evangelical Lutheran Synod, 1879.