The Essential First Step to Having a Healthy Small Church
The biggest problem with small churches is not that they’re small. It’s that we think being small is a problem. 

In my last post, Grow It or Close It? Is there a Third Option for Struggling Small Churches?, we established that a struggling small church can become a healthy small church.

But there’s an inevitable question that follows. Namely, how?

How do we help a church move from small and struggling to small and healthy? Maybe even small and strong, small and innovative, even (dare we imagine it) small and world-changing.

Not surprisingly, there are as many ways, styles and methods to do this as there are churches. But there are some universal truths, too.

If we’re going to have any hope of leading a small, struggling church into becoming a small, healthy church, there is an essential first step we cannot avoid. Don’t worry, you can do it.

Step #1: Stop Assuming that Smallness is a Problem to Be Fixed

Yep, that’s it.

Obvious, right?

Simple? For sure.

Easy? Not so much.

This requires a change of mindset which may be harder than many of us realize. Especially since a lot of us may not consciously be aware we’ve been holding on to this assumption all along.

The biggest problem with small churches is not that they’re small. It’s that we think being small is a problem.

As I outlined in The Grasshopper Myth, the toxic ‘small is bad’ thought process took root in me as a result of 30 years of being told we needed to fix small churches by getting them to grow.

One of the unintended consequences of the church growth movement is that it leaves a lot of people feeling that small equals broken.

A lot of great things have come from the church growth movement. I’ll write about those soon. But since you don’t fix something that isn’t broken, one of the unintended consequences of the church growth movement is that it leaves a lot of people feeling that small equals broken.

But small is not the same as broken because small is not a problem.

The idea that small churches are a problem – is a big problem!

When we start with the assumption that smallness is a problem, it

  • Causes resources to be mis-assigned
  • Stifles creativity
  • Undermines leaders who function best in smaller settings
  • Overvalues management gifts, while undervaluing shepherding gifts
  • Under-utilizes the resources of 80-90 percent of the churches on earth
  • Causes us to seek false success
  • Blinds us to real success
  • and more

On the other hand, what would happen if we all took this first step together and stopped thinking of smallness as a problem?

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