Talking and writing about healthy small churches is a revolutionary idea. It shouldn’t be, but it is. And it probably will be for a while.
But dents are being made. Let me tell you about some that are happening now.
This fall, I’ve been invited to teach about small church principles at conferences from Idaho to Maryland, from Michigan to Florida, and many places in between. (Click here for an updated schedule for 2017).
Having a small church pastor teach healthy small church principles at pastoral conferences is such a new idea that some people don’t quite know what to make of it.
For instance, a couple years ago I was asked to conduct a breakout session for Exponential West – a church planters’ conference. This was an experiment for all of us. Exponential had never featured a session specifically for small church leaders and I had just started speaking and writing about it. I’ll always be grateful that they gave me and this idea a chance – and I’ll be with them again this year.
I titled my talk, What to Do Before You Break Through: Leadership and Decision-Making In Churches Under the 200 Barrier. I’m not a fan of the term 200 barrier, but I felt this terminology would speak to frustrated church planters.
You’re Teaching What?
As the first few pastors started filtering in to the breakout room, I greeted them.
Several of them pointed to the title of my talk in the brochure and asked the question I was expecting. “So this is about how to get a small church healthy, then break through the 200 barrier?”
“Yes to the first part,” I answered. “No to the second part.”
That always got a curious look.
“We’re going to talk about having a healthy small church,” I answered. “There’s a lot of great material about how to get bigger, but I’ve never been able to pull that off, so I’ll be speaking from my own experience – pastoring a small church to health and effectiveness, even if it never becomes big.”
“Our church has gone from stuck and sick to healthy and missional. We’re discipling and sending people into ministry. And we’re doing it in a very small building with what is still considered a small church attendance. If your church is small, I think this session will give you something you can use.”
One pastor responded with “Good! It’s about time!” and sat down ready for the session. Others weren’t quite so sure.