"The best advice I can give pastors in small, traditional churches," said the speaker, "is to move. Such churches won't accept a pastor who trains others to minister instead of doing all the ministry himself. Plant your own churches. You'll never change one that already exists."
I know the feeling. Every year disillusioned pastors committed to growth leave small churches--after trying but failing to bring about change.
It's true: many characteristics of small churches frustrate growth. In general, small churches are interested in preserving relationships and, thus, status quo. Introduce too much change and people respond with a negative, moral judgment: "Things aren't right here anymore."
I have found, however, that small-church pastors can implement growth principles--with some modification. The following four principles are especially important for growing (and surviving as a leader) in a smaller congregation.
REDEFINE WHAT IT MEANS TO STRETCH
I was inspired by a speaker who said, "Churches ...1