Want to Build a Great Church? Stop Burying the Lead

ArrowNo church can do everything. Not if we want to do any of it well.

But every church can do something really well. Maybe a couple things. That’s what makes a church great. Knowing what we’re called to do and doing it really well.

Especially in a Small Church.

But too many churches waste unnecessary time and energy trying to copy other great churches instead of doing what they’re called to do. Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, but it’s no way to build a great church.

So how do we build a great church? Find out what you’re called to do, then do it really well.

And make sure that the thing you do well isn’t buried beneath things you don’t do as well. In publishing, that’s called burying the lead.

Churches bury the lead all the time. We hide our best stuff beneath layers of things we don’t do well at all.

Why? Because we have a template in our head of what a church is supposed to look and act like. But, more often than not, that template is based on churches we look up to, or churches we were raised in, instead of what God is calling our church to be and do.

We all need to figure out what our church is supposed to be about, then feature what we do well.

Here are a few ideas. 


Feature What You Do Well

Are children and families your emphasis? You should have “kid-friendly” written all over everything you do. Literally. Hang banners and balloons in front of the church. Feature your kids’ artwork all over the walls – and not just the Sunday School walls, the main lobby walls, too.

Do you want to be known for your friendliness? Have smiling greeters waving people into the parking lot. Assign people in each seating section to say “hi” to guests and introduce them to others before and after the service. But don’t have guests stand and introduce themselves during the service – that’s not friendly, that’s just awkward.

Is your church strong on preaching the bible? Then why are you waiting until half an hour or more into the service before the preaching starts? Maybe you should begin with preaching. Then have worship in response to the word.


Find and Feature Your Unique Voice

Here are two real-life examples. From a megachurch and a Small Church.

1. Hillsong church in Australia used to be called Sydney Christian Life Centre. But they became known for their phenomenal music, so they decided to put their worship music front-and-center, including changing the name of the church to fit that.

2. The church I pastor is Cornerstone Christian Fellowship. One of the things we do really well is reach out to neighborhood youth. So, if you drive by the church door, you’ll see skateboard ramps in the front parking lot. They’re not hidden in the back, they’re featured out front.

No, you don’t have to change the name of your church. In fact, I don’t recommend that your church does any of the ideas I just mentioned. That would be mere imitation.

Use these ideas as inspiration and start asking yourself these questions:

  • What does our church do well?
  • What can our church do really well?
  • What do we want to be known for?
  • Have we been burying the lead, making people look through layers of fluff to find what we do well?
  • How can we remove the extra layers and feature what we do well?

This is not about gimmicks. This is about mission.

What has God called you to do? Why does your church exist? And how can you let people know about it?


So what do you think? What can your church do to stop burying the lead?

We want to hear from you. Yes, you!
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(Arrow photo from Bit Boy • Flickr • Creative Commons license)

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4 thoughts on “Want to Build a Great Church? Stop Burying the Lead”

  1. Thanks Karl. I am presently n Mexico getting myself recharge. This blog dos a great deal to help m as I lead my church towards it’s future.

  2. Good stuff (as usual). We applied these principles to our calendar as well. We decided to do “6” events very well instead of “12” events that were possibly so-so.

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