Small Church Ministry
Why There’s No “Typical” Sunday In A Small Church – And 5 Ways To Adapt To It
Small church pastors aren’t bad at planning, they’re just dealing with a much more fluid situation than our big church peers.
In small churches, everything is done relationally. Our planning needs to be, too.

Small church leadership is more about having conversations than planning meetings, and celebrating stories more than statistics.

3. Leave a lot of wiggle room in your plans

Most planning principles are based on exact numbers. But when you don’t have exact numbers, you can’t plan that way.

Instead of saying “we need X number of ushers, greeters or nursery attendants”, talk with the members of your church about the importance of being ready for anything at a moment’s notice.

For instance, in most small churches the need for nursery workers can vary anywhere from two or three to none on any given weekend. So sit down with those who are willing, including the parents, and lay out possible scenarios.

Ask families with kids to let you know if they’re not attending on an upcoming weekend. Have a schedule of, say, one nursery worker per week, with one or two as backups.

4. Designate a floater

You know that person who’s enthusiastic about helping, but very unreliable about actually showing up when they’re on the schedule? Don’t fight it, use it.

Make them your designated floater.

A floater is someone who is trained and ready for a handful of tasks, depending on the changing situations.

Ask that friendly, helpful, but not-so-reliable person if they’d be willing to serve as an usher, a greeter or clean-up crew on any Sunday they’re at church and you need an extra hand.

Don’t put them in charge of anything. And don’t make yourself dependent on them. But use them as backup when they’re available.

5. Don’t live and die by week-to-week numbers

This may be the most important point of all.


If you’re a planner by nature, this will be hard, but it’s necessary.

Things seldom go as planned in a small church. People don’t show up as promised, heaters die on Sunday at 7am, and worship leaders (if you have one) call in sick at the last minute.

Roll with it.

I know that’s easier said than done, but it’s necessary for our spiritual and emotional health.

Jesus knows who will and won’t be at church this coming weekend. He’ll be there with you. And he can be honored in a service filled with last-minute change-ups just as much (sometimes more) than one that goes exactly according to our plans.

And maybe that’s the biggest lesson of all for small church leaders. Just because church didn’t go according to our plans, doesn’t mean they didn’t go according to his.

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August 06, 2018 at 1:00 AM

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