Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Ministry opportunities for the smaller church

Small churches often feel the pressure that comes from having to compete with the larger churches in the community. Personally, I hate this idea of competition between churches, but it is something I frequently hear from smaller church pastors. The facilities of the larger churches may be nicer, their youth groups larger and more dynamic, they can offer more programs that appeal to a greater number of people, they have more resources to draw from, their worship services offer live praise bands and seems more powerful, and they have a greater presence in the community. This list could go on, but these are the common complaints I hear most often. And...for the most part, they are true.

These small church leaders then ask me how their church can compete with all that. Again, I think this question is the wrong one to ask because churches are not called to compete with one another. Perhaps a better question is how can we complement what these other churches are doing?

Despite what we sometimes think, there are many ministry opportunities these larger churches are not meeting. Some of these opportunities are where a smaller church can complement the ministry of the larger church.

  1. There are many people who do not feel comfortable in a large church and prefer a smaller church. Smaller churches can offer a sense of community that will appeal to these people. These folks are not looking for a "friendly church" as much as a place where they can make friends.
  2. In every community there are likely to be people groups that are not being reached by any church, large or small. Identify them and begin a ministry that will best serve their needs.
  3. Despite all the talk around contemporary music and praise bands, there are many people who prefer a more traditional worship experience with hymnbooks, pianos, and organs.
  4. Smaller churches often offer a more personal touch than larger churches can. There is something very appealing about a small church that still recognizes birthdays and anniversaries to many people.
  5. People with average gifts may be overlooked in a large church but find numerous opportunities to serve in the smaller church.
  6. Some people have no desire to go to any church but may have issues in their lives for which they seek spiritual answers. They may not want to wait three weeks for an appointment to speak to one of the pastoral staff.
Smaller churches that try to compete with larger ones often attempt to do more than their resources allow. This usually results in mediocre ministry which further frustrates the small church. As I've often said, small churches can usually accomplish more by doing less, and doing it with excellence. Identify those two or three things that your church can do well and focus on those. Let the rest go. As your church becomes known for doing those two or three things well you will begin to make connections with the people listed above.

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