The congregation where you serve, worship or lead may have a small footprint. You may be in a tiny building, you may have no building, or you may have too few people for your large building. But that doesn’t mean you can’t have a big impact.
Some of this impact will be online, of course. But our online lives are actually creating a renewed longing for personal, tactile, face-to-face experiences. These are the very aspects of life that small churches can and should excel at.
Here are five steps every church can take to increase their impact for the cause of Christ in their communities and their world.
1. Equip The Members
So many churches put an unnecessary cap on their ministry potential because they funnel everything through the pastor. But it’s not the pastor’s calling to do the work of ministry for church members. It’s the pastor’s calling (along with the other four church leaders found in Ephesians 4:11-12) to “equip God’s people to do the work of ministry.”
Church leaders need to be equippers and mentors more than anything else we do. All our preaching, teaching, and pastoral presence needs to have discipleship as its goal.
When we equip church members, helping them discover and do the ministries they’re called and gifted for, the church’s impact can grow exponentially, even if its numerical or geographical footprint doesn’t grow noticeably.
In too many churches, the pastor is stretched to the limit because they’re doing everything for the members. If the church did grow numerically under that model, it would be an even greater burden on the pastor.
But when the church uses the equipping model our impact grows even if our attendance doesn’t. And it happens without adding an additional burden on the paid pastoral staff.
2. Minister From The Church, Not Just In The Church
When people are equipped and excited about sharing their faith, they’ll do more than promote a church program or event. They’ll actually tell people about Jesus.
And sometimes the people they reach out to go to another church. We have to be okay with that. Not only okay with it, but we should promote and celebrate it.
If we really care about the growth of Christ’s church, not just our local congregation, we will be grateful for anyone who comes to faith, no matter what church they become a member of.
After all, what’s a better sign of truly healthy church growth? Another person in the seats on Sunday? Or a church member who leads someone to Jesus during the week, even if the new believer ends up at another church?
When we limit our ministry to the building – only doing events in it, or inviting people to it – we place an artificial, unbiblical and unloving cap on our impact and effectiveness.
There’s so much more ministry that can be done from the church beyond what we’re able to do in the church.
3. Leverage Your Online Presence
Unless someone printed this article out for you, you’re reading it on the most powerful tool ever created. Literally.
If the pen is mightier than the sword, how much more powerful is the smart phone, tablet or computer? With these devices we can create unlimited amounts of content and distribute it at the press of a button or tap of the screen to virtually the entire world.
With that kind of access, any church of any size can have an impact far bigger than our geographical footprint.
4. Truly, Genuinely Love People
People know when they’re being used. They can tell when we’re leveraging our relationship with them to pad our pockets or our attendance numbers.
They also know when they’re being loved. Really and truly loved.
There is nothing more attractive than a church that genuinely puts the needs of others ahead of their own needs.
Loving people is harder than drawing a crowd. But the impact is deeper. And impact is what matters.
5. Keep Jesus Front-and-Center
Having a bigger impact is not just about finding better ideas, methods or systems. Especially in the church.
When our vision is only about the things we can do better, we can forget about the greatest opportunity for massive impact – not just for here, but for eternity. Truly being God’s people, doing things God’s way, under God’s blessing and power, for God’s glory.
We must never fall into the trap of thinking that we can do the work of Christ without living and acting in the presence and power of the Holy Spirit.
A great church starts and ends with being a worshiping church. A praying church. A church that honors scripture, loves people and seeks God’s way and will ahead of our way and will.
(Photo by Chris Montgomery | Unsplash)