Church Attendance

Signs Of Life: 7 Ways To Find A Great Small Church To Attend And Serve

A quality small church experience is different than a quality big church experience. But too many people don’t know what those differences are, so they don’t know what to look for in a good small church experience.

There are several characteristics to pay attention to when looking for a great small church to attend and get involved in. And they all answer this essential question in some way…

Are They Doing the Small Things Well?

You can’t hold small churches to the same standards as big churches. It’s not that small churches aren’t as good as big ones, it’s that small church quality isn’t the same as big church quality.

So, if you’re looking for a good, small church to worship and serve in, you need to look for a church that does small church things well, instead of trying to do big church things on a smaller scale.

With that in mind, here are a few characteristics to look for, based on some of the differences between big churches and small churches.

If It’s Okay for a Church to Be Small, Why Do I Feel So Bad When It Is?

I had another one of those Sundays, recently. We started church with more people on the platform than in the congregation. Well, almost.

Sure, it’s summer. People have good reasons to be gone. But it still feels awful.

But why? I’m the small church guy, after all. If anyone should be okay with a low crowd, it should be me, right?

But I’m not.

No, it’s not as bad as it used to be. I no longer live and die by church attendance figures.

But sometimes my sense of value in ministry is still tied to numbers more than it should be.

A Better Way to Invite People to Church – And to Jesus

Why do we put ‘inviting people to church’ so high on our evangelism priorities list? Because it’s easy. Inviting someone to a church event is easier than inviting them to see Christ in me.

When church attendance is our first (or only) step in evangelism, we end up putting on a show for them. But people don’t want a show. And it’s not what the church is supposed to be.

I’m hugely in favor of making the on-ramp easy for first-time church attenders. But never at the expense of doing what we’re supposed to do when we gather as the church – worshiping, discipling, having fellowship and preparing people for ministry.

(This post is an extension of my previous post, Are We More Invested In Bringing People to Church? Or to Jesus?)

Are We More Invested In Bringing People to Church? Or to Jesus?

I have a confession to make.

As a pastor, I have too much invested in getting people to attend church.

My salary depends on it.

My reputation depends on it.

My sense of self-worth depends on it.

All to a much larger degree and I’m comfortable with.

And I’m not alone.

The way most church systems are structured, most pastors have a greater stake in getting people to come to church than getting them to come to Jesus.

Church Is Not Just Who We Are, It’s Also Where We Go

When people say we don’t go to church, we are the church, I resonate very deeply with them.

The church is not a building or an event. It’s people.

But there’s a part of me that resists saying we don’t go to church. Because we do.

Church is not just who we are. It’s also where we go.

It makes no difference if we gather in a brick building with pews and stained glass, a renovated storefront, a multi-purpose room, a megachurch, a coffee shop or a house. But it does matter that we go somewhere.

The church is not just people, it’s people who meet together. For worship, fellowship, discipleship and more.

The meeting part matters.

As long as we exist in physical bodies, those bodies will require physical places to have church meetings.

Measuring What Matters: The Challenge of Church Metrics

Church metrics don’t measure the things that matter. Because the things that matter – like love, faith, holiness and hope – are not quantifiable.

Since we’re unable to measure things of real value, we measure things that are values-adjacent. Like church attendance, offerings, small group involvement, and the like.
Those metrics are important. They’re a minimum requirement for good stewardship.

But we should never forget that, at best, they’re stand-ins for the real thing.

The Main Reason Pastors Count People Is Not as Noble (or Sinister) as You Think

Keeping accurate numbers is important. When we track the right metrics and use that information well, we can do better ministry. The larger the scale of the ministry, the more the numbers matter. So the church needs some numbers-oriented people.

But I’ve discovered another reason many pastors pay such close attention to attendance records and offering amounts. In fact, I think it’s the main reason.

We don’t like to admit it, even to ourselves, because it’s not quite as noble as we’d like. It’s not sinister, either. Perhaps it’s just embarrassing.

Pastors don’t just count people because people count. Sometimes pastors count people to assure ourselves that we count. That our efforts matter.

Sometimes it’s less for their benefit and more for our often-bruised ego.

5 Bad Reasons To Go To a Small Church

People are really picky about the kind of church they like.

But you knew that, didn’t you?

Most people choose their church home based on a combination of several factors, including theology (hopefully that’s first on the list), worship style, location, where their friends go, etc.

For many, one of those factors is size.

I’ve met plenty of people who say they could never feel at home worshipping in a big church. I’ve met just as many people who feel the same discomfort about worshipping in a Small Church.

And that’s fine. To each their own.

But, along with the valid reasons I’ve heard for wanting or not wanting to worship in a certain size of church, I’ve heard some really bad reasons, too.

This is the first in a series of four posts on both bad and good reasons to want to go to a small or big church. (Scroll down to see the upcoming post titles.)

Why am I doing these lists? Because we should all be free to worship in any type of church we want without anyone telling us it’s wrong based on its size. But we should also take a moment to assess the reasons for our preferences, too.

If you’re a pastor, these lists aren’t as likely to apply to you. But they might help you in one of two ways.

First, they can be a starting point for conversations with people in your church about why they’re there. Knowing their motivations for attending your church or not attending another church might even help you spot potential problems before they rear their ugly heads.

Second, you might want to give one of these lists to someone you know who is considering attending or not attending a church based on size. They might help someone make a better choice.

I’m a huge fan of promoting and encouraging healthy Small Churches. But people don’t always go to Small Churches for good reasons. Here are five bad reasons to go to a Small Church.

How Pastors and Congregations See Sundays Differently – And How It Changes Everything

“Why can’t I get more people to volunteer on Sundays?”

It’s one of the most common frustrations I hear from pastors – especially pastor of Small Churches.

Over the past few years, I’ve tried to offer a few ideas to help get volunteerism up. But today, like a blow to the back of the head, it hit me why this challenge never seems to go away.

Pastors and congregations see Sundays in opposite ways. And this affects everything.

Here’s the difference.

Sunday is their day OFF!

But Sunday is the pastor’s biggest day ON!

No wonder we’re not seeing eye-to-eye.

Sunday is their Sabbath. Their day of rest and worship. But Sunday isn’t the pastor’s Sabbath. Yes, it’s a day of worship, but it’s not a day of rest. Because it’s our biggest day on, a lot of us think it needs to be our church members’ day on too.

The Event Matters: How Going to Church Helps Us Be the Church

For almost 2,000 years, people have gathered for church. Because the event matters.

There’s something important about getting up on a Sunday morning (or heading out on a Saturday night, etc.) to gather with other believers.

It tells me and my family that being the church matters, because things that matter get carved into our schedules. They interrupt our week. They cost us something to do.

Yes, we are the church. But it’s also important that we go to church.

The event gives weight to the content.