The size of a church never limits the scope of God’s power. God does big things in small churches. The size of your church is not as important as what God wants to do through your church.
Here are four important questions for all pastors:
- Is your church culture healthy?
- Is the gospel being taught?
- Is there a vision for reaching people?
- Are lives being changed?
If yes, then keep doing what you are doing. We all want our churches to grow larger, but I believe that ultimately the size of your church is up to God. Your job is to serve and lead well with all your heart and leave the rest to him.
I love the saying, “Work like it’s up to you and pray like it’s up to God.” That sums it up well.
Leaders of small churches often get stuck in the struggles and difficulties of ministry. It is easy to get discouraged, but it’s vital to focus on what is good. I’m offering you five good things to lean in to.
You don’t need to work on all five at once. In fact, you could spend about 15 months working on them—three months each.
There is a reason that 68 or 92 or 130 people have chosen to attend your church over all the other choices in the area. There is something that makes your church special; it’s your “secret sauce.” It’s part of your unique DNA, and you need to know what it is and lean in to it.
It might be wonderful worship, a compassionate culture, or perhaps a particular ministry that God is blessing in your community. You can’t make it up or force it. You can’t sit in a meeting and decide what you want it to be. It’s already there, and you need to discover it and leverage it as a force for good in your city.
A big church is something like an aircraft carrier. It’s powerful and can do much good, but it can’t move or turn fast. It can get bogged down in the complexity of its own systems.
A small church is more like a speedboat: It’s fast and can turn on a dime. That’s a powerful feature in a local church. You can make decisions faster and respond to the needs of people and your community more quickly.
You can sense what God is up to and jump in. It’s easier to experiment with a new ministry for a short time. If it gains traction, you keep going; if not, shut it down and ask God for the next endeavor. Don’t be afraid to experiment, but do keep your list of ministries very short.
This is one of the most common things that people love about small churches. The closeness, connection and fellowship are fantastic. It helps people feel at home and cared for in your church. Enjoy all that this brings.
It can, however, be a two-edged sword, so keep a keen leadership eye toward balance between intimacy and inviting new people.
As long as you genuinely welcome new people, this sense of closeness is one of the best things you have going. Encourage your congregation to make friends in the community and invite them to church. Don’t make inviting a program for a special “big day,” but encourage it as a lifestyle.
To grow and multiply your ministry, it’s important to be sowers of seeds. There are many kinds of seeds to sow. Love, kindness and compassion are one group of seeds that return great dividends in time. Generosity and encouragement are similar. Which of these “seeds” are you good at, and which do you need to add?
Another kind of seed comes from thinking big and thinking unusually for a small church. For example, would God allow you to raise up several young, next-generation leaders to send out into pastoral ministry? Perhaps you could send a missionary or even plant a church.
Planting these kinds of visionary seeds has a way of extending the scope and reach of your church in tremendous ways. And in my experience, God always blesses when you give yourself away.
God’s favor is not reserved for big and powerful churches. In fact, I believe he’s looking for humble and available churches that want to reach spiritually unresolved people and lift up the name of Jesus, regardless of their size.
God’s favor is indeed a mystery. We can’t buy it or get it on demand. Yet, it’s not mysterious. We know God wants to bless his church!
Sometimes it’s no more complicated than asking God for his favor upon your church, and other times it’s about patient waiting and continuing to be faithful about doing the right things.
God’s favor isn’t a magic bullet for church growth. It’s a divine touch that brings the supernatural into the natural. It provides life change and momentum. Favor is as much about grace as it is kingdom power. Favor is that holy presence that makes hard work turn in to fruitful results.
May God bless you with much favor. And I pray that your heart is renewed and encouraged for the unique ministry positioning that small churches play in the kingdom of God.