The typical church has about 75 attendees every week.
So if you pastor a small congregation, your church isn’t broken, it’s what’s known as normal. And normal doesn’t need to be fixed.
But for the most part, the books, conferences and classes about pastoring tend to concentrate on big church principles, or on how to help the smaller churches become bigger.
That’s not a bad thing, in fact it’s expected, since we all want to learn from those with growing ministries.
Statistics about Christian converts and church plants in Southeast Asia have been tough to come by. But with 21st-century technology, missionaries are now maintaining databases to map the Gospel’s spread.
In Thailand, which is 94 percent Buddhist, the Rev. Dwight Martin developed a database called Harvest to pinpoint unreached areas. Martin, who grew up in Thailand with missionary parents, has an MBA in technology management and worked in the software industry for 30 years.
Through the years I have been asked hundreds of times about what I would say are the critical steps in planting or launching a church or ministry. Having planted two churches and after helping numerous nonprofit ministries see their start, I’ve learned a few things, many of which I write about here, I know are a few common steps in a successful launch.
“Our numbers are down.”
Few words have inspired more dejection among American pastors. For many, the emotional ups and downs of their labors are tethered to the attendance figures of Sunday mornings and ministry events. This fixation on numbers plagues churches of all shapes and sizes. Some may acknowledge that such ups and downs are unhealthy—even ungodly—yet they still can’t help being downcast when attendance flags.
This post may surprise you. I know that culture is increasingly anti-Christian, and the work of the gospel ministry faces new challenges every day. On the other hand, I’m excited about doing evangelism today. Here’s why
The Church is in a time of crisis.
More specifically, the Church has an evangelism crisis. We live in a free country and are allowed to talk about Jesus openly in most contexts. Nothing is stopping us from inviting others to our churches. We don’t live in a place where we risk our livelihood to lives to share the gospel.
felt like a sellout. It was time to leave seminary and begin pastoral ministry, and I was taking the easy road by moving back to my hometown in Northern Florida. My seminary neighbor, I thought, was the true missionary, heading to plant churches in Northern California. I had “missional insecurity,” the way Christians feel when they plan a spring break trip to some resort before learning their friends are going on mission trip. All of this good education and knowledge about the urgency of the gospel . . . and I was going to be a pastor in the Bible Belt?
There is an undeniable, irresistible resilience of the small church. Small churches are not better than big churches. Big churches aren’t better than small ones.
The arguments we have about size are silly, dangerous and missing the point.
Everyone has something unique to contribute.
As for small churches, here are some of the most undeniable, irresistible blessings they bring to the body of Christ:
According to a LifeWay Research survey of 1,000 Protestant pastors sponsored by Exponential:
21 percent of churches have fewer than 50 people attending Sunday services
35 percent of churches have 50 to 99 people attending Sunday services
32 percent of churches have 100 to 249 people attending Sunday services
11 percent of churches have 250 or more people attending Sunday services
6 in 10 churches are plateaued or declining in attendance
Sharing Christ with a member of another faith tradition can be frightening. And some traditions seem to cause more angst than others. In my experience, one causing a great sense of trepidation is Mormonism.
This need not be the case.
Let’s consider a few ways to reach our Mormon neighbors as effectively as possible, so they will turn from false religion and follow the Jesus of Scripture.