Why The Small Church Should Watch For Great Leaders

More than half the churches in America have less than 75 in attendance. Ninety percent of churches have less than 350 in attendance. [read stats]  Drive by any town and you can see lots of small churches.

Smaller churches may begin to feel like they unable to do anything of significance compared to the platform and spotlight of super large churches. Don’t let that happen.

I recently interviewed someone who has been a member in our church for 75 years. Toward the end of our conversation, we got to the topic of small and large churches. According to the statistics, our church happens to be in the top ten percent of the churches in our country in average attendance, but it used to be much smaller.

As we talked, this long time church member quoted Micah 5:2 from memory: But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, are only a small village among all the people of Judah. Yet a ruler of Israel will come from you, one whose origins are from the distant past.” This Old Testament passage is rich with meaning, but in this context, he was talking about how the most amazing thing may come from the smallest thing. The King of the World came from the smallest of clans in Judah.

If you are part of a small church, watch to see who God may be raising up in your church. If you are part of a small ministry group, watch who God may use and raise up. If you are leading a small youth ministry or children’s ministry, take heart and keep at it. Keep seeking to grow your ministry, but realize that God is using this season to call children and students. Maybe you yourself are being called to serve or lead.

I remember being a part of a Sunday school class for young adults with about 10-12 in the group. We had many great Sunday sessions and gatherings together during the week. A year later, the group dissolved as people moved away, got married, bought houses, started new jobs, or otherwise transitioned in life. This small group ministry provided serious significance for a season as each person found the path they needed to take.

I have this scripture verse on my desk:  Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin… Zechariah 4:10.

If you are part of a small church, here are some thoughts for you:

Watch who God might be working on.

One benefit of being in a small church is relationships.  As you are connecting with people and watching them grow, be on the look out for and encourage those who may experience God’s call on their lives.

Offer rich leadership opportunities.

One benefit smaller ministries can offer is opportunity for leadership.  Get children and students involved as soon as they are interested.  Read:  The Small Church’s Gift to The Young Leaders.

Develop relationships with the young folks in your church.

Every pastor needs to know the young ones by name and build relationships with them. This doesn’t mean the pastor should be doing youth ministry, but they should be its biggest advocate. God calls children and students, often at a young age.

Keep your focus on being the church.

Never stop being the church as it was intended to be – the salt and light in your community, the hands and feet of Jesus, the body of Christ, and the hope of world. Make sure your mission stays clear and don’t get side tracked. Create ways for your church to reach out to people around you. Most people do not get inspired to give their lives to the business of the church, but they will give their lives for the mission of the church.

Who can you send off into ministry?

Take every opportunity to send people into ministry. If someone will be leading a ministry or a mission trip, call them up and pray for them before they begin. If a student will be going to church camp, send them off with prayer during worship. Figure out ways to pray for people and send them off in small and big ways. Help this become a norm for all to see.

Set up work outside the walls of your church building.

Find opportunities and develop leaders who can “do” ministry outside the church and around the community. Figure out ways to get outside of the church walls. As this happens, doors open for leaders to emerge. In worship we give to God, but in mission we receive from God. This seems counterintuitive, but it’s why so many people sense a call to ministry when they are on mission trips or participating in ministry events.

Who knows … Out of you, the smallest of churches, may come a pastor, evangelist, church planter, or missionary. What if your church is here today to faithfully surround those who are growing in a call to serve in full time ministry? Be faithful as you raise up those leaders. Pray for them. Seek them out. Encourage them. Prepare them. They can be any age and may seem like the most unlikely candidate.

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