7 Qualities Pastors Need to Grow a Small Town Church

Now I know not every pastor is interested in growing the church they serve. It’s not that they don’t want to see the church grow; it’s just not a main priority or focus for them. They’re content with leading a healthy small church, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

But, I also know that there are some pastors who have the desire to see their church grow numerically, and there’s nothing wrong with that either as long as that desire comes from a place of wanting to see God’s Kingdom grow and not their own. We need more of these pastors in small town rural America.

I’m hoping some of you reading this have that mentality and have the qualities it takes to grow a small town church.

Here are some of the qualities you’re going to need.

  • Start with Vision. Worry about Everything Else Later.

I understand that you have very limited resources but now is not the time to worry about that. With the right vision and the ability to cast that vision, you’ll see the resources come.

  • Dream Bigger than You Think is Possible.

I was telling my church’s story to a pastor recently, and when he heard it, he said he needed to ask God’s forgiveness for thinking too small. My church grew to 700 people in attendance each weekend in a town of 2,000 people. His church was in a town of 18,000. If you pastor a small town church, you need to dream bigger.

  • See Opportunities, Not Obstacles.

Instead of thinking about what you don’t have, start looking at what you do have. You may not have enough leaders, but you’d be amazed at what a handful of people can accomplish when they’re working together. You may not have very much money, but you can use what you have to bring more people into the church, which brings more resources into the church. Change your attitude.

  • Be Willing to Take Some Risks.

You have to be willing to fail in order to succeed. Sometimes you’re going to have ideas, ideas that just don’t work. That’s ok because you’re learning. If you sit around waiting for a guarantee, you’ll never make a decision.

  • Stop Waiting for Everyone to Agree.

One of the biggest issues in many rural small town churches is this idea of being congregationally led. It’s not even a Biblical concept. While you’re waiting for everyone to agree on something, the church is dying. If you can’t change your form of government, find a way around it.

  • Be Able to Handle Criticism.

Every leader has their critics. If you pastor in a small town, you better believe you’re going to have them. Not everyone is going to like you, and that’s ok. You didn’t get into ministry because you wanted to be liked. You got into ministry because you wanted to see lives changed. Some of you have forgotten that.

  • Have Faith that God Can.

Nothing worthwhile is possible without God. Our belief in God’s power to do something amazing in our churches is essential to our success. When you have faith that God is in the midst of everything you’re doing to reach people, you can have confidence that God will see you through.

Which one of these traits are you lacking? Are there any you would add? Leave a comment and let us know. Also, if you’re a pastor that believes God is wanting more for your church, but you don’t know where to start contact me about a possible coaching relationship. I’d love to help.

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2 thoughts on “7 Qualities Pastors Need to Grow a Small Town Church

  1. Keith Beckwith

    Travis, I love your work. This VISION piece has caused many to leave the ministry. They don’t know how to find it, how to communicate it or their vision is not compelling enough to see the manifestation of real life-changing ministry. I agree that the heart of God and the incarnation of the Messiah clearly came from a visionary mindset in the mind of the almighty, but when we walk this out in the context of the local church, it seems daunting. How do you communicate casting vision? I have thought of this also as a burden that you have for the people you lead.

    Pro Deo et Patria

  2. Adam

    Thank you for this interesting article. As a small town pastor, I wondered if I might chime in with a few of my own: 1) Pray regularly for God to grow me personally; “if I take care of the depth of my ministry, God will take care of its breadth.” ~John MacArthur; 2) Look for opportunities to build relationships with others in informal, out-of-church-building contexts for the purpose of sharing the gospel; establishing a presence in a smaller community takes engaging people personally, and evangelizing the lost must be a priority for growth to occur; 3) Be patient for God to work, just as a farmer waits patiently for his crops to grow; in many cases it takes time to build rapport and trust with outsiders; 4) Preach biblically-based and gospel-rich sermons; after all, genuine faith comes by hearing God’s Word, particularly the good news about Jesus.

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