The drive for efficiency within local churches became more pervasive over time. In post-war America, it was often led by a revolving group of church growth consultants and expert communicators who built large ministries through the systematic appropriation of business techniques and large media platforms. But as local churches looked to top-selling Christian authors, famous television preachers, and well-known worship leaders, what they witnessed was a new kind of efficiency that rewarded those who had won the competition for market share. No wonder the temptation toward church consolidation and mega churches has been so compelling. Like Walmart, these larger churches have harnessed the power of efficiency to great effect.

What small rural churches can offer, however, is an opportunity to be truly known within the church and the larger community.