Big churches and small churches design their budgets very differently. While large churches spend their time balancing percentages, designing requisition sheets, and tracking an increase or decrease of giving as one measurement of the church’s health, small churches deal with an entirely different set of issues. Are there are guidelines that are universal? I believe …
How was church attendance yesterday?
In our church, we started the first service with more people on stage than in the audience.
It filled in to a normal summer crowd later, but for a while it was looking rough.
That’s the way attendance is in a small church. You can have a 50 percent drop one Sunday, then a 100 percent increase the next for almost any or no reason.
The smaller the church, the bigger attendance swings are. That makes events harder to plan, conduct and assess.
Every 30 years?
Yes, those are the stats, according to a church renovation expert I heard at a recent conference.
By the time his company is called in to help a church renovate their sanctuary, lobby, exterior or anything significant, it’s been three full decades since any part of their facility has been updated in any meaningful way.
That’s. Too. Long.
I’m aware of how costly it is to update church facilities – especially in a smaller church that may not even be paying the pastor. But there’s an alternative to waiting thirty years to do anything, then breaking the bank to overhaul everything at once.
I love keeping to-do lists. They help me stay on task, keep track of my progress, determine who should be doing what, and so much more.
But I have to constantly remind myself that a to-do list is not a plan.
Starting a to-do list isn’t the creation of a plan, and crossing that last item off the list (as satisfying as that feels) is not the completion of a plan. It’s just a list. Helpful, to be sure , but it’s not a plan.
If I want to get things done, I need a to-do list. If I want to get important things done, I need a plan.
God doesn’t work on our calendar.
He created days, weeks, months, seasons and years. Those are real things.
People designed minutes, hours, decades and New Year’s Day on January 1. Those are made up things.
That’s why I don’t trust New Year’s resolutions or decade-long church plans.
What are the odds that God’s plans for my life, my church or my denomination will match our artificial calendar?
I don’t like meetings.
Planning meetings, board meetings, staff meetings, committee meetings…
If I could jettison one aspect of pastoring, that’s what I would get rid of.
So why do I have them? Because, when done well, ministry team meetings are an essential tool for communication, team-building, problem-solving, vision-casting and more.
So I make sure the staff and volunteer meetings are as few and as effective as possible by requiring that they meet these 12 criteria:
There’s been a lot written about effective planning meetings from a big church perspective. But very little has been written with the challenges of small churches in mind.
For instance, most church planning advice assumes that everyone will have no problem showing up, because they have a paid staff.
That’s not the case in a small church. In many situations everyone is unpaid, including the pastor, making even the most basic assumptions moot.
Since planning meetings are harder to do in a small church, it’s even more important to make them matter. That’s why, when our church has planning meetings, I make sure to meet these 12 criteria.
Most teaching on long-term church planning looks at 5-10 year goals. But most small churches barely have a plan for this coming Sunday.
We know we should do better than that. So we read the books and blogs on long-term church planning. But there’s such a big gap between my current reality of “what am I preaching on this Sunday?” to their ideal of “what are your plans for the next decade?” that most small church pastors give up in frustration.
What if there were some intermediate steps we could take to look at the year ahead, design a bare-bones template, then start filling that template in? Well, there is.
Small church pastors are just as passionate, wise, hard-working and called by God as our big church counterparts. But long-term planning is harder to do in a small church. And there are very few resources to help us do it better.
That’s not an excuse. It’s a reality.
So why is annual planning harder in small churches? Here are five reasons:
Small Churches are not scaled-down versions of megachurches. We’re different, not just in size, but in methodology. A lot of what works in big churches just won’t work in smaller ones. And vice versa. But there are some overlapping principles. Starting with the scriptural fundamentals, of course. Over the years, I’ve noticed some principles that …