Encouragement

Bigger? Or Better? Yes, Your Church Has A Choice

Better churches become bigger churches. Right?

Maybe not.

It turns out that’s been the rule of thumb for businesses, too. And it’s no more true there than it is for us.

Constant growth doesn’t work for the majority of churches or businesses. Yet they can still be successful at what they do.
This week, I finally got around to reading Bo Burlingham’s Small Giants: Companies That Choose To Be Great Instead Of Big (how could I resist, right?). Written more than ten years ago, it followed 14 companies that chose to limit their growth for a variety of reasons.

Some limited their growth to keep it more personal and intimate, some because a smaller size fit the skills and goals of the leadership, some because they felt it was the best way to maintain quality control, and so on.

But they all had one thing in common — an obsession with making their business better, combined with the belief that staying small was the best way for them to do that.

Bigger? Or Better? Yes, Your Church Has A Choice

Better churches become bigger churches. Right?

Maybe not.

It turns out that’s been the rule of thumb for businesses, too. And it’s no more true there than it is for us.

Constant growth doesn’t work for the majority of churches or businesses. Yet they can still be successful at what they do.
This week, I finally got around to reading Bo Burlingham’s Small Giants: Companies That Choose To Be Great Instead Of Big (how could I resist, right?). Written more than ten years ago, it followed 14 companies that chose to limit their growth for a variety of reasons.

Some limited their growth to keep it more personal and intimate, some because a smaller size fit the skills and goals of the leadership, some because they felt it was the best way to maintain quality control, and so on.

But they all had one thing in common — an obsession with making their business better, combined with the belief that staying small was the best way for them to do that.

5 Ways Your Church’s Impact Can Become Bigger Than Its Footprint

Small churches can have a big impact.

Especially today, with the power of social media and other new ways of communicating.

But also, because so much of our lives are lived online, people are having a renewed longing for more personal, tactile, face-to-face experiences. These are the very aspects of life that small churches can and should excel at.

The congregation where you serve, worship or lead may have a small footprint – as in a tiny building, no building, or too few people for your large building, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a big impact.

Here are five steps every church can take to increase their impact for the cause of Christ in their communities and their world.

Leading A Church Through Difficult Times: A Lesson From “The Most Bombed Hotel In The World”

Leading a church is often a lesson in managing and overcoming frustration. Hopefully not all the time. But there are those seasons…

This week I’ve learned a great lesson about triumphing over extreme difficulty and frustration from a very unlikely source – a hotel my wife and I are staying at that’s known as “The Most Bombed Hotel In The World.”

If you Google that phrase (or click here where I’ve done it for you), you’ll find out a whole lot about the Hotel Europa. We’re staying here courtesy of the Presbyterian Church of Ireland who we’ve come to encourage this week.

The hotel hasn’t been bombed since 1994, and it’s a beautiful building in the heart of downtown Belfast. It’s an unexpected blessing to stay in such a nice hotel. And it’s always great to learn something new, too.

First, let me give you a little history of this hotel, then I’ll share what it can teach us about managing difficulties as church leaders.

9 No-Fault Reasons Some Local Churches Close Their Doors

Jesus’ church will never die.

But individual congregations are never given that promise. No matter how faithful they may be.

Last week, I wrote a blog post about honoring those who care for congregations as they face the last years or days of their ministry life.

Most of the responses were positive. Many were grateful to have finally been acknowledged for the unsung, valuable ministry they have provided for churches going through such difficult circumstances.

But there were also a few responses that were concerned about what they perceived as lack of faith. As a rule, I let such responses go by without comment. And I’m keeping to that rule now.

So this is not a direct response to those comments, but it is about an issue they raised that I feel is important to address. Namely, why do congregations close, other than sinful disobedience?

Going, But Not Forgotten: A Tribute To Those Who Help Local Churches Die With Dignity

Local churches have a life-cycle.

Some barely make it out of the starting blocks. Some last a generation or two. Some are still active after hundreds of years. But, even with constant renewal, the evidence from 2,000 years of Christianity shows that every congregation will, at some point, cease to exist.

If you are currently attending or leading a church that is in its final years or days, this short article is for you.

Whatever your past, present or future as a congregation may be, we are grateful for the kingdom work you have done.

We mourn for the loss you feel, and we celebrate the eternal results of a job well done.

Going, But Not Forgotten: A Tribute To Those Who Help Local Churches Die With Dignity

Local churches have a life-cycle.

Some barely make it out of the starting blocks. Some last a generation or two. Some are still active after hundreds of years. But, even with constant renewal, the evidence from 2,000 years of Christianity shows that every congregation will, at some point, cease to exist.

If you are currently attending or leading a church that is in its final years or days, this short article is for you.

Whatever your past, present or future as a congregation may be, we are grateful for the kingdom work you have done.

We mourn for the loss you feel, and we celebrate the eternal results of a job well done.

No. I Don’t Want To “Shut Down An Atheist In 15 Seconds Flat!”

Ah, social media. You beautiful, hideous beast.

One of my least favorite current trends is the growing number of my Christian friends posting memes, blog posts and videos with headlines like these:

“Young Student Humiliates Atheist Professor Who Tried To Tell Him God Isn’t Real!”
“This Will Shut Down An Atheist In 15 Seconds Flat!”
“A Simple Illustration That Destroys (insert counter-argument here)!”
“On-the-Street Interviews That Prove Liberals (or Conservatives, or Millennials, or Calvinists, or…) Are Idiots!”
“Mormons get schooled by Christian man!”
Count me out.

I don’t want to shut down, humiliate or destroy anyone. Or their argument.

Jesus gave us a better way.

When People Leave: The Private Pain of the Small Church Pastor

It’s hard when people leave a church.

It’s hard to leave. It’s hard being left.

Most who leave don’t make that decision lightly. They deal with some serious pain when they finally make the decision to go. As a pastor I’m more familiar with seeing good people leave the church than being the person who goes through the pain of leaving, so that’s what I want to address in this post.

If you’ve been a pastor for several years, you’ve had to deal with your share of such departures. Each one hurts. It’s especially hard when those leaving are long-term members.

The collective pain of all those departures over a long period of time can wear a pastor down.

Even if the church is large and growing, it can be hard when people leave. But when the church is small, each loss is much more painful.

Is Your Church Measuring Health Or Size? They’re Not The Same Thing

What’s better, a healthy church of 50, or a healthy church of 5,000? The answer should be obvious, but often isn’t.

They’re the same.

Certainly a healthy church of 5,000 is ministering to more people than a healthy church of 50. But a healthy church is a healthy church.

We need to weigh small and large churches the way we measure feathers and bricks. 100 healthy churches of 50 have the same spiritual and numerical weight as one healthy church of 5,000.