Many churches have at least an event or two every year to connect with their wider community. There is always much anticipation and expectation that said event will result in neighbors showing up for Sunday worship. Too often that anticipation is met with great disappointment. The expectation is that when folks show up for the event and find out how friendly the church is, they will automatically want to be a part of the church. Unfortunately, for the most part this strategy is not working for the majority of churches.
While some churches find themselves new to being a small church post pandemic, many churches have been a small church since they were planted decades or perhaps a century ago. Being small in size does not mean small churches are small in their ministry and kingdom impact.
There are unique strengths and advantages in being a small church. Dante Alighiere reminds us, “A mighty flame followeth a tiny spark.” Here are some of the advantages and strengths lifted up in our new book, Mission Possible for the Small Church: Simplifying Leadership, Structure, and Ministries in the Small Church, co-authored with my good friend and colleague, Blake Bradford.
Due to their congregational size, small churches can more easily recognize first-time and returning guests, welcome them with open arms, and engage with them more quickly than larger churches.
Small churches are tenacious. Often the pastoral leadership is part time or shared with another church or two. While some may see this as a disadvantage, small churches congregants have taken a more engaged role in leading the church and have empowered laity more readily for ministry.
Know Your Name
In small churches, everyone knows your name. This is a place for all to be known and feel known, seen, and nurtured by the whole congregation.
Due to their size, it doesn’t take multiple meetings and layers of committees to make decisions. Since family-sized churches are relationally driven, often decisions about the church are made at family functions outside the church where most of the same people are in attendance thus eliminating the need for another committee meeting. Decisions can also be made quicker and more easily since there are not the multiple layers of committees to navigate for seeking approval.
One can count on routines, schedules, and traditions in the small church. No time is wasted on creating and planning new ministries. Everyone knows what is expected of them and what needs to be done. Congregants go to work instead of going to as many committee meetings! This makes budgeting automatically kick into gear as they have done for years.
While this is not an exhaustive list of strengths and advantages, we hope that by lifting them up, congregants in small churches can be reminded of these strengths and advantages, embrace them, and use them to leverage ministry in powerful ways.
If your small church would like to take further advantage of the power of being a small church through simplifying the leadership, structure, and ministries, check out Mission Possible for the Small Church. This resource will help churches further simplify leadership approaches, church decision-making structures, and approaches to ministry. It also offers tools to help clarify, focus, and guide small churches to operate more effectively and efficiently as they become more missionally focused. Gather a small group to read and study each chapter. Then process the “Team Questions” at the end of each chapter to help consider the topics and ideas and determine the faithful steps you feel called to take for your context.