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Nov 13, 2008

Small Church Research

We just released some new research on small churches in Facts and Trends.

In the last week, I have visited with hundreds of pastors of small churches-- and I love their passion and appeciate their service. Even though many seem to forget, the vast majority of churches are small. We did this research at the request of a group of SBC small church pastors. We think it will be helpful to small churches of all kinds.

Here are some excerpts:

Most pastors of smaller-membership Southern Baptist churches see what God is calling their congregations to be and do and have laid the groundwork for accomplishing the mission, but their efforts to lead are frustrated by "turf" battles and a failure to clarify and evaluate plans.

According to a new study by LifeWay Research published in the November/December issue of Facts & Trends magazine, those pastors could see their congregations make progress by evaluating church ministries, organizing to reach their goals and planning for the future...

"The effectiveness of local church ministry often is jeopardized by poor organization," said Scott McConnell, associate director of LifeWay Research. "Understanding God's calling and the context of the church is important, but leadership requires knowing where you are, knowing where you need to go and knowing how to get there. Most small church pastors actively pursue the first two but many struggle with the third."

The study, which surveyed 350 pastors of congregations that average fewer than 100 in primary worship attendance, was conducted in March 2008. It found, among other things, that 67 percent of small church pastors are frustrated with how slowly progress is made at their church.

The inertia, however, isn't for lack of trying. According to the study:

Most pastors of small churches have assessed their church's cultural context. Three-fourths have studied their communities. Ninety percent have examined trends in their congregation. Seventy-one percent say they try to be actively involved in their community.

Most pastors of small churches see what God is calling their church to be and do. Ninety-four percent say they clearly see the needs, hurts and problems God is calling their church to address. Eight out of 10 have shared with the congregation a clear, compelling picture of what God is calling their church to look like several years from now.

The obstacles to missional progress, however, are familiar to every pastor. While two-thirds of the pastors surveyed indicated their church makes regular changes to improve their effectiveness, 49 percent said lay leaders in the congregation often resist change to protect their area of responsibility. A full one-third of them said their church had experienced disruptive conflict in the past year...

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Posted:November 13, 2008 at 12:00 am

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