The Biggest Difference-maker In A Small-church Pastor’s Sunday

Conversations in the church lobby are the small-church superpower. They keep people connected more than anything we do from the pulpit.

Small-church pastors do so much. The last thing I want to do is add another brick to your load.

But in the work I’ve done with small-church pastors, one Sunday responsibility may be the biggest difference-maker of all.

Every small-church pastor should meet every newcomer, then do whatever it takes to remember their name if they come back again.

The smaller the church, and the fewer first-time guests you have, the more important this is.

The Small Church And The Personal Touch

There’s one main reason people choose to attend a small church instead of a big church.

The personal touch.

In big churches, quality is visible and obvious.

  • You can see the building from the freeway.
  • When you pull up to the parking lot you’re greeted by smiling attendants in matching shirts.
  • You can check your kids into high-quality, age-appropriate classes while you relax with a free coffee in a comfortable seat.
  • The music is led by studio-quality musicians, and the message hits all the right emotional cues, backed by professional stage design and graphics.

In a small church? Not so much.

In a small church, the quality is not as visible and not as obvious. It’s there, but it’s one level deeper than what you can see.

It’s the personal touch.

The Big/Small Difference

While people can attend a big church for years and never meet the lead pastor outside of a quick handshake or photo op, in a small church they’re likely to have a conversation with the pastor the first time they visit. And if they come back, they’ll be remembered.

Or they should be.

This is why the single most important thing a small-church pastor can do every Sunday is to meet every newcomer, then do whatever it takes to remember their name if they come back again.

No, this is not the most important thing for pastors in general to do every Sunday. Our character matters more, as does good theology, the ability to communicate the truths of God’s Word well, and so on. But those other pastoral priorities are common to all churches, big or small.

Meeting people and remembering their names is what makes the small church stand out. It makes people feel cared for and it helps the church be a place people want to return to.

The Small Church Superpower

A small church shouldn’t try to be a scaled-down version of a big church. Instead, we must emphasize what small churches do best. Relationships.

In a big church, not only will most people never be known by the pastor, they won’t be known by any members outside their small group. That’s not wrong, it’s just the nature of size.

But in a small church, the personal touch is our strength. Including from the pastor. The conversations we have in the church lobby before and after the service will go much further toward keeping people connected to the church than anything that happens from the pulpit.

That’s the small-church superpower.

No, the pastor shouldn’t be the only person who remembers their name, but the fact the pastor did remember it carries special weight.

Remembering Their Name Is Remembering Them

So, work hard on good sermons. Keep the building up-to-date and clean. Make sure that what you present from the platform is as good as it can be.

But don’t forget the church lobby. The personal touch.

That’s one of the main reasons they’re coming.

To remember their name is to remember them.

(Photo by François Philipp | Flickr)


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