4. Stop Speaking Down To Us
In the south, they say “bless your heart.”
It sounds sweet. But if you’re on the receiving end of it, you’re not being praised, you’re probably being pitied.
When conference speakers talk about growth, then throw in a line like “of course, there’s nothing wrong with being small,” what we hear is “bless your heart.”
Quit telling us there’s nothing wrong with being small and help us do small better!
5. Give Us Better Pricing Options
When a conference registration costs $300, it’s not costing $300. After adding food, travel and hotel, it’s going to be $1,000 and up. That is way beyond the affordability of most small churches. (Actually, so is $300 for many.)
Then, for bivocational pastors, when you factor in the loss of income and/or vacation days from their paying job, the price quickly becomes impossible to meet.
Even when conferences let you bring your whole staff for one price, it helps very few small churches, because most of us don’t have any staff.
Start by offering tiered pricing for different size churches. And make that front-and-center in your advertising.
Find sponsors who can cover the food, travel and hotel costs for small churches. I’ve seen it done, and I’ve been witness to the grateful, tear-filled responses from pastors who have been blessed by it.
One great way of reducing the price is by holding conferences in smaller towns, instead of bigger cities. The cost is far less for hotels and food that way.
And using a campground opens up even more possibilities, with options for hauling an RV or pitching a tent with the whole family.
6. Come Closer To Us (IRL And Online)
Many groups are holding the same conference in two venues on opposite ends of the country to make travel easier. For big churches, this makes their trip doable.
Small churches need even more options to make the time and travel expenses affordable.
The closer you can bring a conference to where we live, the more likely we’ll be able to attend.
Plus, give us more online options. This is happening more often, but still not enough.
7. Stop Making Unrealistic Promises
“If you do this, your church will double in the next two years!”
Stop. Just stop.
Maybe the Lord did that in the church you’re pastoring. If so, I celebrate it. I truly do.