Five Ministries Every Church Needs to Be Good At

Most small town churches are trying to do too much. In reality, you really only need to be good at about five things, and I would argue you could get by with being really good at three of them. For many years the church I serve has offered a great kid’s ministry, a great worship experience, and guest services that make guests feel like family. Throughout the years we’ve always grown in attendance, despite struggling to get groups going at our church and being even worse at missions. However, I think if we did all five of these well, we’d see even greater growth, and I believe you would as well. So, let’s take a look at each one.

  1. Kids

If you’re looking to reach young families, kid’s ministry is the most important ministry in your church. Unfortunately, this is one of the biggest struggles of the small town and rural church, and it doesn’t have to be. You can do kid’s ministry well with a small budget and even a small number of committed volunteers. I outline the five ingredients to a great kid’s ministry in this post.

  1. 1st Impressions/Guest Services

The church I serve didn’t do a lot of things right when it started out twelve years ago. This is the one thing they did, and it held the church together during those early days when we were trying to figure everything else out. If you want to keep guests coming back to your church, you have to get this right. I share a few ideas on how you can do that in this post.

  1. Worship

I know worship can be used to describe many different things, but in this context I’m specifically talking about the singing and preaching that happens during a service. This is another big area most small town and rural churches struggle to get right. I totally understand. We struggled too for a very long time, but the key is trying to get better each week and never settling for mediocre. Regardless of the style of music your church sings, do it with excellence. In the same way, make sure you’re prepared to preach a gospel-centered message and speak with passion.

  1. Groups

Like many other small town pastors I speak to, groups is an area that we just can’t figure out. We can’t recruit people to lead groups, and some of those who do lead can’t get people to come to their groups. It’s been more than a little frustrating. Even though I’ve contemplated giving up on them, I know that they’re vital to keeping people connected and to keep people growing. If you’ve figured out the answer, please send me an email and share your secret.

  1. Missions

My first real leadership position in the church was Missions Director, and I was the worst. Every fundraiser I held lost money. Luckily, the church I serve gave me a second chance in a position for which I was better suited. We’re still not great at international missions, but we’re getting better. The area we’ve made the biggest strides is in local missions, serving our communities and local schools. If you want people to start talking about your church, one of the best things you can do is serve your community.

It’s very difficult for most churches to do all five of these areas well, which is why you often have to choose which you’re going to be good at. In my opinion, you start with the first three and add the other two when you can.

You may disagree, and if so I’d love to hear your opinion. Leave it in the comments below, and don’t forget to subscribe to the blog to get tips on church growth, leadership, and more delivered to your inbox each week.

Twenty Ways to Stay Positive in Ministry

Part Two

I shared ten ways to stay positive in ministry in my last post, and I want to share ten more in today’s post. Ministry is full of difficult seasons, and without some ways to stay positive you’re probably not going to last long. So, if you’re feeling down, hopefully these ideas will help.

  1. Watch a movie. I ended my last post by suggesting you read a book, but reading may not be enjoyable to you. Instead, watch a movie. Comedies are the best for relieving stress, but a love story might be best to watch with your spouse.
  2. Serve someone outside of the church. It’s easy to forget why we got into ministry. Remind yourself by serving someone. Buy someone’s lunch, cut your neighbors grass, or if you’re feeling especially brave, offer to babysit someone’s kids.
  3. Tell your spouse why you’re discouraged. At times I think it’s dangerous to tell your spouse too much about what’s going on with the church, but at other times I think it’s just as dangerous to keep it to yourself. If something is bothering you and your spouse can tell, let them know what is so they can help you through it.
  4. Pick up a hobby. It’s never too late in life to pick up the game of golf, bowling, or lots of other hobbies. Find something you enjoy that can take your mind off ministry at least for a few hours.
  5. Get a small win. Finish your sermon a day early, so you can take your spouse on a date the next day. Check something off your to do list. Pray for three people in your church. Find a few small things you can accomplish and celebrate.
  6. Listen to music. Dust off an old record, cassette, or CD and listen to some of your favorites. Just be warned, if you grew up in the 90’s like I did, you may want to stay away from the grunge genre.
  7. Spend some time alone. I’m an introvert, which means that people often drain me. If you’re like me, don’t be afraid to spend some time alone to allow yourself time to recharge.
  8. Watch a sermon online. Technology has given us access to some of the greatest preachers of our time. Spend an hour watching a sermon from one of your favorites. Who knows, maybe the message will speak to you.
  9. Pray. The most obvious idea on this list, yet one that I easily forget when I’m feeling depressed. Don’t shy away from God during these seasons, lean in.
  10. Get professional help. If you’ve tried these ideas and you still can’t seem to shake these feelings of discouragement, sit down with a counselor. There’s nothing shameful about needing help. We’ve all been there before. Do whatever it takes to get yourself healthy.

I hope these ideas help, and don’t forget to go back and read my last post to find out ten more ideas to stay positive. If you ever need someone to vent to and share your frustrations, shoot me an email and I’d love to talk. We’re in this together, and I want us all to be in it for a very long time.

Twenty Ways to Stay Positive in Ministry

Part One

In ministry you will have hard days, weeks, months, and even years. There will be times you will want to quit. Times when you feel like you’re not making a difference. Times of frustration, pain, and sadness. It’s inevitable. So, you better discover some ways to stay positive and get through those hard times. In this post I share ten ways you can stay positive, and in my next post, I’ll share ten more. I hope these ideas will get you through because we need you in the fight.

  1. Remember what God has done. I tell church leaders regularly not to hold on to the past, but remembering the past can be helpful during hard times. On days when you think you’re not making a difference, think back on the victories God has already given you.
  2. Get away from negativity. That means normally getting outside of the church, away from social media, and sometimes not answering the phone. Don’t give time to those who are going to drain you, at least not until you’re healthy again.
  3. Do spend time with those who encourage you. When I get down it’s natural for me to isolate myself. This isn’t healthy. Instead, make an appointment with someone who always encourages you. This could be your spouse, a friend, or another pastor.
  1. Read old thank you cards. I have three or four thank you cards sitting around my office at all times. I’ve also started keeping a folder of cards and notes that have been given to me throughout the years. When times get hard, it helps to pick a few up and read them.
  1. Lower your expectations. Goals and expectations are great until they become a source of discouragement. A wise pastor once told me, “If you’re having trouble meeting expectations, lower them.” Stop beating yourself up for not meeting your goals. It’s not helpful.
  2. Clean your office. I need to make a confession. My office is currently a mess. It needs to be cleaned and organized because when it isn’t it causes stress. Cleaning your office will make you feel better, and it’s one thing you can control when the rest of your life seems to be going out of control.
  1. Start a new project. There’s always something exciting about starting something new. This could be a new sermon series, a new small group idea, or even a new diet. Just make sure you’re getting your other work done as well.
  1. Go do something active. Don’t sit around and be miserable. Go for a walk in the park, jump on a bike, or hit the gym. There’s something about getting moving that eases stress and worry.
  1. Take a nap. Do you ever wake up in a bad mood? This happens to me sometimes, normally after a church event that didn’t go quite as planned. Instead of dwelling on it all day, give yourself permission to take a nap. Hopefully, you’ll wake up refreshed and in a better mood.
  1. Read a book. The Bible is great to read, but in certain seasons it may not be the best medicine. Perhaps try something different, like a biography of someone you admire or a work of fiction that will get your mind off of ministry.

I hope some of these ideas will help, and don’t forget we have ten more ideas coming at you in my next post. Make sure you don’t miss it by subscribing to the blog, and share your own thoughts and ideas in the comments below.