for small churches by Rob Lamont Australia
A Summary of Church
by Rob Lamont
In the past,
people had a
local butcher, milkman, baker and corner store. With time, these have
supplemented by Shopping Centres that try to outdo each other by their
size. Many people feel that the day of the corner-store style church
walking distance of the suburb has slipped to being a past phenomena
needs to be replaced by mega churches.
and closing at a rapid rate but they with not become extinct. If you
in a small church you need to consider how you are to minister and
in building the Kingdom of God.
The aim of this
book is to
help you think through how your church can make a difference!
Helpful Resources on
this book is based
by Lyle Schaller Abington Press (1994)
"How to break Growth
by Carl F. George Baker Press (1993)
This book is
my Wednesday Night Bible Study group at Haberfield, who are helping me
to discover what life in a small church with big dreams can be like.
BIG CHURCH, SMALL
A small church is
from a big church. Sadly, many pastors in small churches go to
of the biggest church they know to see how they did it. Some mega
start with a multiple staff and an initial group of 300 plus
This has little to do with what most small churches need to consider.
This book is an
some factors presented by a range of church growth books. The aim of
book is to be an easy to read summary and provide you with thoughts on
what options you can take.
Like a City Like a Village
One part or full time worker
Minister is a Jack of all trades
Staff live on or
Staff may or may not live locally
Strong lay leadership in decision making
All can participate
driven Tradition, kinship, heritage driven
A wide range of
A wide range of age
Few choices of ministries.
Variety of people
Emphasis on interpersonal relationships
High turnover of
Low turn over of congregation
Home or family orientation
Consumer or Market
Long term relationship driven
Quality and skills
Participation by all
People see the
Members see the church as local
Eyes on the
Eyes on the past
See tradition as a
Find security in tradition
More sensitive to
Financially secure although normally poor.
Large debt, with
based on future growth
Little, manageable or no debt.
Variety of service
One or possibly to worship styles
Ongoing teaching based.
Variety of weekly
experiences Emphasis on Sunday Service
Limited music ministry
Open to regular
Find change hard
One or two different styles of worship
LEADING A BIG
LEADING A SMALL CHURCH
Skills in interpersonal relationships
Strong personal Christian commitment
Able to complete
Willing to be sensitive to the congregation
Live from day to day
Seek to maintain the status quo
Do all aspects of office work
Primary care is new
Primary care is for long term members
Preaching shared with lay leaders
Do pastoral care
Let others take
Seeks to do all ministries
Care provided by
Care provided personally
Minister has an office in his house
Older style building
Gardens come before parking spaces
Poor and out of date signs
Use of a variety of
equipment Older style equipment
eg. Video, Internet,
WHY ARE SMALL
First we have to
that their is a variety of small churches. Some examples include
a large church. This may be the result of a pre-car building program.
* A church
program that has hit a plateau.
* An older
that has "died"
* Ethnic Church that
reach the next generation.
* The Church
pay for a full-time minister.
* A Change in the
nature of the local community.
an amalgamation (Local churches or at a denominational level)
* Inability to
* Desire to
a tradition that is redundant to a new generation.
growth exclusively will miss the deeper need of a small church of
* It is
to grow and maintain inter-church cooperation whilst being
in joint ventures with other small churches.
a small church are very different from being in a big church. As a
grows the minster changes from being at the cutting edge of care to
more in a managerial position. It is like the difference
a head-master and a school teacher.
* Fear of losing
* Fear of not
other member in the church.
* A feeling of
of where the church is. A sense of relaxed drifting.
* A desire
will return because we are ready to now minister to the past.
* A church
up in internal squabbles.
churches that are caught up in debating a strongly divisive
eg women's ordination.
* A church where the
is old and desiring to stay till retirement.
on other sources of income other than the offertory.
that allow money not ministry to dominate the agenda.
not Kingdom growth.
ISSUES AT STAKE
For a small church
to come to grips with the following issues
* Are we
* Are we
minister to strangers?
* Will we deal
helping congregation members who fear becoming a small fish
in a big sea.
who fear that more competent people will come in and take over my
* Fear that
will bring changes to the church.
* Hurting people
small churches to be healed but many move on when "cured"
a church where they can be anonymous.
WHERE CAN A
1. Be closed by
2. Forced to
or merge by the denominational headquarters.
3. Link to a
missionary church that sees it as an opportunity to minister. If
comes then the church will be given independence.
4. Give the church
new ethnic group to use for worship.
5. Renew itself and
a new generation. Turnabout under a strong new leadership. The type of
leadership would need to be an attracting person, providing a
leadership, inspiring preaching, a compelling vision, a high view
of Christ and His Word, a deep Christian commitment and a
6. Find a niche and
7. Make no
and slowly drift into oblivion.
8. Change from
church to a regional church.
with other local churches.
HOW TO GROW
Before a church can
it must consider where this new growth will come from.
Growth can only come
from other local churches.
* Transfer growth
moving into an area.
* An area
large number of new people moving into an area.
* Growth by
* Conversion growth.
OPTIONS FOR A
Many people in the
world no longer believe big is better. So standing beside the giants
multinationals, many people have found a niche for a specialist
Thus, the small church can also actively create a niche ministry and
the freedom to respond quickly to a special need.
TO SMALL CHURCHES
act like a participatory democracy where each people feels they have
right to veto decisions. To help make decisions seven ingredients are
4. Give everyone the
to speak and to be heard.
6. More talk
7. More time
to be able to talk themselves into supporting what they initially
The plan to cause
would involve: -
1. Building a list
courses of action or scenarios for the future.
2. Defining the
that will be used for choosing which course of action.
3. Choosing a course
action and implementing it.
1. List the problems
2. Discuss the
1. Look at the
2. Determine what
be done with the available money.
1. Discuss and
2. Define the broad
specific and measurable steps to achieve the goals.
the mission plan is going.
2. Plan how these
used to launch a new ministry.
3. Discuss which
could be effectively launched and how could it carve out a special
1. What is the Lord
our church to be and to do in the years ahead?
2. Where are we
are beginning a vision from?
3. How will we get
where we are now to where we what to go?
1. What are the
our community and ho would we help them.
1. Who will
2. What are the
that best represent the people that we want to reach?
3. Are we willing to
to reach new people and what will it involve?
SEEK TO MEET
GROUP OF PEOPLE
AS THE NEIGHBOURHOOD CHURCH.
Some other methods
church buildings a focus for the community life of the area.
that help the people in the area.
regularly ( At least four times a year)
excellent adult teaching program.
commitment to being a neighbourhood church.
friendly worship time.
invitations to church.
2. BECOME A
eg deaf people,
people wounded by other churches, Ethic groupings, Young adults,
aged, parents of children with disabilities.
3. FOCUS ON
BEING A FAMILY
youth ministries, family events etc. or ear mark one of these areas.
4. FOCUS ON
BEING A TEACHING
5. FOCUS ON
6. FOCUS ON
7. FOCUS ON
8. FOCUS ON
THE POOR OR NEEDY
9. FOCUS ON
10. CREATE A
11. FOCUS ON A
BASED MINISTRY EG SURFING, GOLF, SPORTS
12. BECOME A
13. CHURCH FOR
14. USE THE
MEDIA TO PROMOTE
15. CARVE OUT
FOR HURTING PEOPLE
17. FOCUS ON
AN AGE OR
18. FOCUS ON A
To help this occur
a leader who has
A strong vision
High energy level
Focus on the
Able to impart vision
Able to fulfil tasks
Such a person
possibly only one in a hundred. Since this is the case, who can you
Match up the strengths of the Pastor, plus the member so the church.
Look at the
Some words of
older church is harder than planting a new church.
* The greatest
needs a supportive team.
Possible ways a
can grow a church is through
This does not
but improving what is existing. Areas covered could include preaching,
services, Bible study groups, the buildings, pastoral care, music.
Plan, train and
a lay pastors training program. Tied in with this would be to improve
the congregation to minister
This may have a
on small groups, training courses, structuring the steps of Christian
4. The leader
the focus from being inward looking to outward looking.
This would involve a
new way of seeing the church. Rather than believers coming together to
worship, it involves believers also go out to minister.
5. Relocate to
a new site
and become a regional church
* Being a local
church to ministering to a large area.
* Decision driven by
to driven by goals, mission statement and vision.
* Putting new people
ahead of past member needs.
* Raising the
all facets of ministry.
* Mobilising large
* Relocating may
painfully working through three or four decisions before the right one
* The loss of some
"past" pillars of the church.
* A high level of
to change the whole church organisation.
* Recognition that
car has changed how people view going to church.
* A long pastorate.
6. Build a
Build a network of
prayer triplets, prayer training courses, prayer chains etc.
7. Build a
See that the
first a teacher then a Pastor. Pastoral care needs are answered through
the quality of sermons.
This turns the view
from what can members give in terms of money, ministry etc. to what can
they receive. Eg teaching, care, support, challenges, learning etc.
9. Change the
As music tastes
do the creative ways that we can worship God. Many churches se
as the only way to worship. However, tradition normally means what I
up with only.
Turning the emphasis
from how badly off we are, to what God is doing and what we do have.
11. Join in a
venture with another church.
If this is done to
for go closure, or to just save money then it will only put of the
To join with another
or churches should be to streamline and expand ministry, improve
evangelism and offer a better range of resources and groups.
1. Public policy
eg abortion, Slavery, the needs of the poor.
2. Churches that
smaller church leaders.
3. Combined to
a welfare program.
local issues eg. Brothels in the area.
5. Mission giving
6. Provide a pool of
which can be used by each other. eg training programmes
8. Sharing pulpits
9. Sharing a pastor
churches are of the same denominational)
10 Sharing a
worker eg. Scripture teacher, chaplain
11. Sharing a
ministry eg. youth group
Many churches like
of taking of a programme that is prepackaged. This helps if you are not
a visionary. This idea is like buying a franchise. You hope that the
have been ironed out before you get to use it. This allows the quality
and presentation style that would normally be only found in larger
Some packages include
1. BRIDGE BUILDING
This may include
Fun day, ESL Classes, Craft courses,
special evangelist events.
4. PASTORAL CARE
6. BIBLE TEACHING
churches may aim
to put on a range of programs that can invite people.
A Possible way
1. Putting on 4
events that you can invite locals to. These create new entry points to
the church. Some events may include Easter pageant, Christmas carols,
fun day, Make Christmas day a special day, Use mothers and fathers day
as special events.
2. Celebrate ANZAC
Remembrance day, Australia Day, Mothers day, Fathers day,
3. Invite all the
businesses to a special community leaders day.
4. Education Sunday
5. Create annual
tied to the history of the church. This allows you to regularly invite
locals to come to Church.
6. Use food as
tool, Church BBQ's, Christmas in July
7. Kids Club tied to
8. Church fete or
sale as a way of meeting people.
9. Renewal of
at a church service.
10. Special new
(Open House, Church in a cafe, Open day, Seeker Service)
11. A special
12. Turn your
into a community centre.
13. Plant a
kids Club, Sunday school.
14. Strengthen what
do best. Seek, reinforce and promote what are some of our good features.
1. Retired Ministers.
2. Missionaries who
3. Older students
in Bible College. Many older churches have a house that can be offered
rent free in return for ministry.
4. Bi vocational
This is the fastest growing style of church pastoring. This may involve
* People doing
time further studies.
* People who
taken early retirement.
* Hold down a
part time job.
5. Several Bi
6. One minister
a couple of churches.
1. Get adopted by
a larger church.
2. Link the
church to a para-church
ministry. Many small churches have far more resources and buildings
what they need. Allow a Para-church group the use of your facilities
link the church to help the ministry.
3. Link to a
eg Church school, Become hospital chapel.
4. Give your
to a struggling ethic church.
5. Ask the
Headquarters for a subsidy.
6. Seek donation
of the Church.
7. Use assets
8. Merge with