Small churches are not scaled-down versions of megachurches.
We’re different, not just in size, but in methodology. A lot of what works in big churches just won’t work in smaller ones. And vice versa.
But there are some overlapping principles. Starting with the scriptural fundamentals, of course.
Over the years, I’ve noticed some principles that bigger and megachurches tend to do well, that small churches can learn from.
1. Clarity of Purpose
One of the best things to come out of the church growth movement is the focus on having a clear sense of purpose.
We need to know why our church exists.
When I was interviewing to be the pastor of my current congregation, they asked “What’s your vision for our church and community?”
My answer? “I don’t have a vision for your church and community.” Brilliant, right? Hey, don’t knock it. I got the job. And I’ve been here for almost 24 years.
Actually, my answer was longer than that. I continued with, “I don’t know your church or this community, so there’s no way I can have a vision for it yet. But if we agree that I’m called to be your pastor, we’ll spend as much time as it takes to ask the Lord to help us figure that out together.”
And that’s what we did. It took longer than I expected, but we didn’t give up until we knew what our purpose was. We know why we’re here. We know what we do well, and what we’re not called to do at all.
That understanding is one of the first things any healthy church needs. If you can’t answer the simple question “why does this church exist?” find out.
People should have an idea what to expect when they come to your church.
Megachurches have this one down pat. Too much so for some people’s taste.
But, even if you like to keep things loose and quirky, there’s a baseline of consistency that is a must for a healthy church.
Consistency starts with something as simple as truth in advertising. If it’s called a prayer breakfast, pray during the breakfast. If we tell people it’s a fellowship night, it’s dishonest to turn it into a surprise evangelistic service. It’s called bait-and-switch, and it’s illegal when your grocery store does it. It’s unethical when our churches do it.