- People experience community in a smaller church. We live in a time where many people feel alone. We do not know our neighbors. Family members often move away due to their careers or other reasons. As a result, many people crave a sense of community, and a smaller church can provide that. A small church can be a place where "everybody knows your name." I am convinced that smaller churches that do a good job of offering community to people will grow.
- People have an opportunity to serve. It is true that people today are less likely to join an organization than in the past, but it is also true that people are looking for a place where they can serve and make a difference in people's lives. Smaller churches never have enough volunteers. If we give people opportunities and the freedom to serve in places where they feel needed, we will see our ministries expand.
- Small churches communicate quickly. I know...sometimes too quickly, especially if there is some controversy. But, rapid communication is important as it allows the small church to rally around a family or member that may be going through a difficult time or who has lost a loved one. This increases the sense of community referred to above.
- People share common experiences. The small, rural church I served as pastor consisted of many retired people, blue collar workers, farmers, and very few professional people. When I first went to the church there was only one person with a college degree, a teacher. In the smaller church, everything is based on relationships, and it is much easier to build relationships with people who share common experiences. When I went to the church as a bivocational pastor my other job was working on the assembly line in a factory. I had been raised on a farm and understood that life. I quickly was able to fit in which was a huge advantage for me as the pastor.
- People are more important than programs or performances. You seldom have to audition to sing in a small church choir! In fact, you may not even be able to carry a tune, but no one cares because you are part of the family. Again, it's about relationships and community. One of the first questions people ask when challenged with change is how will this change impact the relationships that exist in the church. If it is feared that the change will have a negative impact, it will often be resisted because people are more important.
In recent years we have been challenged to build on our strengths and find ways to manage around our weaknesses. As a small church leader you want to build on these five strengths found in many smaller churches.