A Summary of Church Growth Material
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Info on Church growth for small churches by Rob Lamont Australia
SMALL CHURCHES
BIG HEARTS
A Summary of Church Growth Material
by Rob Lamont




INTRODUCTION

In the past, people had a local butcher, milkman, baker and corner store. With time, these have been 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 within walking distance of the suburb has slipped to being a past phenomena and needs to be replaced by mega churches.

Small churches are dying and closing at a rapid rate but they with not become extinct. If you are in a small church you need to consider how you are to minister and participate 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 which this book is based
"The Small Membership Church" by Lyle Schaller Abington Press (1994)
"How to break Growth Barriers" by Carl F. George Baker Press (1993)

This book is dedicated to 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 CHURCH!

A small church is different from a big church. Sadly, many pastors in small churches go to conferences of the biggest church they know to see how they did it. Some mega churches start with a multiple staff and an initial group of 300  plus congregation. This has little to do with what most small churches need to consider.

This book is an outline of some factors presented by a range of church growth books. The aim of this book is to be an easy to read summary and provide you with thoughts on what options you can take.

   BIG CHURCH      SMALL CHURCH
     Like a City      Like a Village



STAFF AND MANAGEMENT
Multiple staff                                 One part or full time worker
Specialist staff                              Minister is a Jack of all trades
Staff live on or near site                  Staff may or may not live locally
Staff management                         Strong lay leadership in decision making
Management led                           Congregation led
An inner elite                                All can participate
Senior Pastor personalty driven      Tradition, kinship, heritage driven
Growing or shrinking                      Stable


MINISTRIES
A wide range of ministries                            Few ministries
A wide range of age related groups               Few choices of ministries.
Variety of people types                               Homogeneous
Emphasis on growth                                   Emphasis on interpersonal relationships
High turnover of members and visitors           Low turn over of congregation
 

PHILOSOPHY

Business orientated                                 Home or family orientation
Diversity                                                 Unity
Mission emphasis                                   Survival emphasis
Consumer or Market driven                       Long term relationship driven
Quality and skills promoted                      Participation by all
Strongly directional                                  Relational
People see the church as regional            Members see the church as local
Eyes on the future                                  Eyes on the past
See tradition as a hindrance                    Find security in tradition


FINANCES

More sensitive to financial needs                                Financially secure although normally poor.
Large debt, with payment based on future growth         Little, manageable or no debt.
Outsider orientated                                                    Insider orientated
Proactive Budget                                                       Reactive Budget


WORSHIP
Variety of service styles                            One or possibly to worship styles
People needs based                                 Ongoing teaching based.
Variety of weekly teaching experiences      Emphasis on Sunday Service for teaching
Many new comers                                    Few visitors
Strong music ministry                               Limited music ministry
Open to regular change                             Find change hard
Multiple Worship styles used                    One or two different styles of worship



LEADING A BIG CHURCH                    LEADING A SMALL CHURCH
Professional competence                  Skills in interpersonal relationships
Leadership ability                              Strong personal Christian commitment
High achiever                                   Available
Able to complete projects                  Willing to be sensitive to the congregation
Able to plan                                     Live from day to day
Teacher                                           Pastor
Visionary                                         Seek to maintain the status quo
Administer staff                                Do all aspects of office work
Entrepreneur                                    Administrator
Primary care is new people                Primary care is for long term members


MINISTRY STYLE

Emphasis on Senior Minister always preaching              Preaching shared with lay leaders
Training for pastoral care                                              Do pastoral care
Train                                                                           Do
Let others take responsibility for a ministry                    Seeks to do all ministries
Work with leaders                                                        Visits everyone
Care provided by structures                                           Care provided personally



BUILDINGS

Administration office                                        Minister has an office in his house
Large worship complex                                     Older style building
High profile position                                          Poor location
Emphasis on parking                                        Gardens come before parking spaces
Good signage                                                  Poor and out of date signs
Use of a variety of communication equipment     Older style equipment
eg. Video, Internet, Computers etc.



 

WHY ARE SMALL CHURCHES SMALL?
First we have to realise that their is a variety of small churches. Some examples include
*  Branch church to a large church. This may be the result of a pre-car building program.
*  A church planting program that has hit a plateau.
*  An older large church that has "died"
* Ethnic Church that cannot reach the next generation.
*  The Church cannot pay for a full-time minister.
* A Change in the socio-economic nature of the local community.
*  Poor handling of an amalgamation (Local churches or at a denominational level)
* Inability to change.
*  Desire to maintaining a tradition that is redundant to a new generation.


BARRIERS FOR SMALL CHURCHES
 *  To seek numerical growth exclusively will miss the deeper need of a small church of dealing with change.
 *  It is hard to grow and maintain inter-church cooperation whilst being involved  in  joint ventures with other small churches.
*  Ministry needs for a small church are very different from being in a big church. As a church   grows the minster changes from being at the cutting edge of care to being more in a   managerial position. It is like the difference between a head-master and a school teacher.
* Fear of losing intimacy.
* Fear of not knowing every other member in the church.
*  A feeling of satisfaction of where the church is. A sense of relaxed drifting.
*  A desire that yesteryear will return because we are ready to now minister to the past.
*  A church caught up in internal squabbles.
*  Denominational based churches that are caught up in debating a strongly divisive issue   eg women's ordination.
* A church where the minister is old and desiring to stay till retirement.
*  Churches that rely on other sources of income other than the offertory.
*  Church councils that allow money not ministry to dominate the agenda.
*  Interested in survival not Kingdom growth.



ISSUES AT STAKE
For a small church it has to come to grips with the following issues
*  Are we willing to change?
*  Are we willing to minister to strangers?
*  Will we deal with helping congregation members who  fear  becoming a small fish in a big sea.
 *  Helping members who fear that more competent people will come in and take over my ministry.
*  Fear that new people will bring changes to the church.
* Hurting people come to small churches to be healed but many move on when "cured" to   a church where they can be anonymous.


WHERE CAN A SMALL CHURCH GO?
1. Be closed by denominational headquarters
2.  Forced to amalgamate or merge by the denominational headquarters.
3.  Link to a larger missionary church that sees it as an opportunity to minister. If success   comes then the church will be given independence.
4. Give the church to a new ethnic group to use for worship.
5. Renew itself and reach a new generation. Turnabout under a strong new leadership. The type of leadership would need to be an attracting person, providing a transforming leadership,  inspiring preaching, a compelling vision, a high view of Christ and His Word,  a deep Christian commitment and a productive work ethic.
6. Find a niche and minister to it.
7.  Make no decision and slowly drift into oblivion.
8.  Change from a suburban church to a regional church.
9.  Stronger cooperation with other local churches.



HOW TO GROW
Before a church can grow, it must consider where this new growth will come from.
Growth can only come about from
*  Transfer growth from other local churches.
* Transfer growth from people moving into an area.
*  An area having a large number of new people moving into an area.
*  Growth by birth.
* Conversion growth.


OPTIONS FOR A SMALL CHURCH
Many people in the secular world no longer believe big is better. So standing beside the giants and multinationals, many people have found a niche for a specialist company. Thus, the small church can also actively create a niche ministry and have the freedom to respond quickly to a special need.


ALTERNATIVES AVAILABLE TO SMALL CHURCHES
Small Churches effectively act like a participatory democracy where each people feels they have the right to veto decisions. To help make decisions seven ingredients are needed.

1. Time
2. Patience
3. Choices
4. Give everyone the opportunity to speak and  to be heard.
5. Trust
6. More talk
 7. More time for people to be able to talk themselves into supporting what they initially  opposed.


POSSIBLE WAYS TO MOVE AHEAD.

OPTION ONE
The plan to cause change would involve: -
1. Building a list of alternative courses of action or scenarios for the future.
2. Defining the criteria that will be used for choosing which course of action.
3. Choosing a course of action and implementing it.
 

OPTION TWO
1. List the problems facing the congregation.
2. Discuss the possible solutions.

OPTION THREE
1. Look at the current financial income.
2. Determine what could be done with the available money.

OPTION FOUR
1. Discuss and define a mission statement.
2. Define the broad objectives.
3. Formulating attainable, specific and measurable steps to achieve the goals.
4. Evaluate regularly how the mission plan is going.

OPTION FIVE
1. Identify strengths, assets and resources.
2. Plan how these can be used to launch a new ministry.
3. Discuss which ministry could be effectively launched and how could it carve out a special niche.

OPTION SIX
Discuss the following questions
1. What is the Lord calling our church to be and to do in the years ahead?
2. Where are we today? Where are beginning a vision from?
3. How will we get from where we are now to where we what to go?

OPTION SEVEN
1. What are the needs of our community and ho would we help them.

OPTION EIGHT
1.  Who will our church reach?
2. What are the characteristics that best represent the people that we want to reach?
3. Are we willing to change to reach new people and what will it involve?


OPTIONS FOR FUTURE GROWTH

SEEK TO MEET AND MINISTER TO A NEW GROUP OF PEOPLE

1. RECREATE YOUR PLACE AS THE NEIGHBOURHOOD CHURCH.
Some other methods include
 a.  Making the church buildings a focus for the community life of the area.
 b.  Put on events that help the people in the area.
 c.  Door knocking regularly ( At least four times a year)
 d.   An excellent adult teaching program.
 e.  A genuine commitment to being a neighbourhood church.
 f.   A user friendly worship time.
 g.  Regular personal invitations to church.
 h.  Extroverted minister.
 

2. BECOME A REGIONAL CHURCH
eg deaf people, singles,  people wounded by other churches,  Ethic groupings, Young adults, aged, parents of children with disabilities.
 

3. FOCUS ON BEING A FAMILY CHURCH
Emphasis on children's ministries, youth ministries, family events etc. or ear mark one of these areas.

4. FOCUS ON BEING A TEACHING CHURCH

5. FOCUS ON LAY EMPOWERMENT

6. FOCUS ON THE WORSHIP QUALITY

7. FOCUS ON ISSUES THAT ARE CURRENT

8. FOCUS ON CARING FOR THE POOR OR NEEDY

9. FOCUS ON WORLD-WIDE MISSIONS

10. CREATE A NEW CONGREGATION STYLE

11. FOCUS ON A LEISURE BASED MINISTRY EG SURFING, GOLF, SPORTS

12. BECOME A MULTICULTURAL CONGREGATION

13. CHURCH FOR THE UNCHURCHED

14. USE THE MEDIA TO PROMOTE YOUR MINISTRY

15. CARVE OUT A DISTINCTIVE NICHE

16.   CHURCH FOR HURTING PEOPLE

17. FOCUS ON AN AGE OR SOCIO-ECONOMIC GROUP

18. FOCUS ON A SPECIAL NEEDS GROUP
 


GROWTH THROUGH LEADERSHIP
To help this occur you need a leader who has
A strong vision
Extroverted
High energy level
Gifted
Supportive partner
Focus on the important not the urgent
Able to impart vision
Able to fulfil tasks
Attracting personalities
Creative
Future orientated
Productive
 

Such a person is rare, possibly only one in a hundred. Since this is the case, who can you get. Match up the strengths of the Pastor, plus the member so the church.
Look at the
 Assets
 Gifts
 Experience
 Skills
 Personality


Some words of caution include
 * Revitalising an older church is harder than planting a new church.
 * The greatest minister needs a supportive team.

Possible ways a strong leadership can grow a church is through

1. Increasing the quality.
This does not involve change but improving what is existing. Areas covered could include preaching, services, Bible study groups, the buildings, pastoral care, music.

2. Increasing the care.
Plan, train and implement a lay pastors training program. Tied in with this would be to improve the welcome program.

3. Training and equip the congregation to minister
This may have a strong emphasis on small groups, training courses, structuring the steps of Christian growth

4. The leader changes the focus from being inward looking to outward looking.
This would involve a whole 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
this involves changing the perspective of
* Being a local neighbourhood church to ministering to a large area.
* Decision driven by tradition to driven by goals, mission statement and vision.
* Putting new people needs ahead of past member needs.
* Raising the quality of all facets of ministry.
* Mobilising large amounts of money.
* Relocating may involve painfully working through three or four decisions before the right one is      found.
* The loss of some of the "past" pillars of the church.
* A high level of skill to change the whole church organisation.
* Recognition that the motor car has changed how people view going to church.
* A long pastorate.

6. Build a prayer network
Build a network of retreats, prayer triplets, prayer training courses, prayer chains etc.

7. Build a strong preaching ministry.
See that the minister is first a teacher then a Pastor. Pastoral care needs are answered through the quality of sermons.

8. Raise expectations
This turns the view around 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 worship style.
As music tastes change so do the creative ways that we can worship God. Many churches se "Tradition" as the only way to worship. However, tradition normally means what I grow up with only.

10. Positive Preaching.
Turning the emphasis away from how badly off we are, to what God is doing and what we do have.

11. Join in a cooperating venture with another church.
If this is done to only for go closure, or to just save money then it will only put of the inevitable.
To join with another church or churches should be to streamline and expand ministry, improve  evangelism and offer a better range of resources and groups.


SMALL CHURCHES COOPERATING TOGETHER

1. Public policy statements eg abortion, Slavery, the needs of the poor.
2. Churches that mentor smaller church leaders.
3.  Combined to provide a welfare program.
4.  Public policy on local issues eg. Brothels in the area.
5. Mission giving
6. Provide a pool of resources, which can be used by each other. eg training programmes
7. Missions
8. Sharing pulpits and teaching groups
9. Sharing a pastor (When churches are of the same denominational)
10  Sharing a specialist worker eg. Scripture teacher, chaplain
11.  Sharing a specialist ministry eg. youth group
 


PROGRAMMED BASED GROWTH
Many churches like the idea 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 mistakes 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 churches.
Some packages include

1. BRIDGE BUILDING
This may include festivals, Fun day, ESL Classes, Craft courses,

2. EVANGELISM
Training  courses, special evangelist events.

3. DISCIPLESHIP

4. PASTORAL CARE

5. TRAINING

6. BIBLE TEACHING
 


Secondly, churches may aim to put on a range of programs that can invite people.

A Possible way ahead may include

1. Putting on 4 -10 major events that you can invite locals to. These create new entry points to the church. Some events may include Easter pageant, Christmas carols, family fun day, Make Christmas day a special day, Use mothers and fathers day as special events.
2. Celebrate ANZAC day, Remembrance day, Australia Day, Mothers day, Fathers day,
3. Invite all the local businesses to a special community leaders day.
4. Education Sunday
5. Create annual festivals tied to the history of the church. This allows you to regularly invite locals to come to Church.
6. Use food as ministry tool, Church BBQ's, Christmas in July
7. Kids Club tied to a family service.
8. Church fete or garage sale as a way of meeting people.
9. Renewal of marriage vows at a church service.
10. Special new comers Sunday, (Open House, Church in a cafe, Open day, Seeker Service)
11. A special community based drama.
12.  Turn your church into a community centre.
13. Plant a children's ministry, kids Club, Sunday school.
14. Strengthen what you do best. Seek, reinforce and promote what are some of our good features.


OTHER MODELS OF STAFFING
1. Retired Ministers.
2. Missionaries who are on  leave.
3. Older students who are in Bible College. Many older churches have a house that can be offered rent free in return for ministry.
4. Bi vocational Ministers. This is the fastest growing style of church pastoring. This may involve people in
 * Parachurch groups.
 * Bible College Lecturers.
 * People doing part time further studies.
 * People who have taken early retirement.
 * Hold down a normal part time job.
5. Several Bi vocational ministers.
6. One minister shared between a couple of churches.



OTHER OPTIONS
  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 than what they need. Allow a Para-church group the use of your facilities and link the church to help the ministry.

3. Link to a local ministry. eg Church school,  Become hospital chapel.

4. Give your church building  to a struggling ethic church.

5. Ask the denominational Headquarters for a subsidy.

6. Seek donation from ex-members of the Church.

7. Use assets that provide an income.

8. Merge with another church

9. Close