According to Google, somewhere between forty to fifty percent of Americans make New Year’s Resolutions. That means this month almost half of America will be looking to better themselves or the world around them. What if the church did the same?
A couple of things would need to happen first.
First, churches would have to grow tired of the status quo. They would have to quit living in the past. They would have to be willing to let go of their traditions.
They would have to realize they can either change or die a slow death.
Ok, that was more than a couple, but you get the point. The future of the small town church is pretty bleak…unless they resolve to change.
Here are five places to start.
- Stop focusing on limitations and start focusing on opportunities.
The small town church is full of excuses. We don’t have enough money. We don’t have enough volunteers. We don’t have enough potlucks. You get the idea.
Instead of focusing on what you don’t have, focus on the opportunities you do have. Small town churches can make everyone feel like family. Small town churches can have a bigger impact on their communities. Marketing is easier in small town churches, because people talk to everyone. Take advantage of your opportunities.
- Stop waiting for people to come to you, and start going to the people.
The prior church I attended was located off of Shooting Hill Road. It wasn’t exactly easy to find. Most small town churches aren’t. Yet, we keep offering events at our churches and then wonder why no one from the community shows up.
What if instead, we went out to the communities we’re trying to reach and met their needs. What if we look for ways to serve them, right where they are. Could we host a street party and serve hamburgers and hot dogs? Could we volunteer to work concessions at football games? What community events can we be a part of?
- Stop adding events and programs, and start cutting the ones that provide little to no impact.
Most small town churches have an average attendance of 63 people and offer 47 programs. Those statistics are totally made up, but that doesn’t mean it’s not true. Small town churches are overloaded with programs that no one cares about. Here’s why, tenderhearted pastors who can’t say no to Dorothy when God’s asking her to start a “Mittens for Kittens” ministry.
If it doesn’t line up with the vision of your church don’t start it. If it’s not helping people far from God draw closer to Him, then cut it. Most churches choose to be mediocre at a million things, when they should concentrate on being great at a few things.
- Stop complaining about people not inviting, and start giving them a reason to invite.
I’m guessing if you’ve been pastoring very long, you’ve been guilty of admonishing your congregation for not inviting their friends and family to church. You may have said something like how this generation has lost its passion for evangelism. Let me let you in on a little secret. Here’s what your congregation won’t tell you, if they invited their friends and their friends ever showed up, they’d be embarrassed about what they put them through.
Prayer requests that turn into gossip sessions, singers who have no business singing, and pastors who preach till their red in the face. Your congregation hasn’t lost its passion for evangelism, they’ve lost their passion for the church they attend. You have to take ownership of that. You want them to start inviting their friends, give them a church they can be proud of.
- Stop catering to the insider, and start focusing on reaching the outsider.
The older a church gets, the more likely it is to become insider focused. Every program and event is designed for the benefit of those who are already in the church. Every decision that is made is put through the filter of how will those who are already here react to this. And I get it, insiders pay the bills, including the pastors salary. They’re hard to ignore.
I’m not asking you to ignore them. I’m asking you to change their focus. Preach and teach in a way that takes the focus off them and puts the focus on those who are far from God, those who have never attended your church. Design your programs and events around what will attract those outside the church. If you do this, you’ll see your church grow.
So, those are my resolutions for the small town church. Unfortunately, only about eight percent of people keep their resolution. I’m hoping it will be different for the small town church.
What would you add to this list? Do you have any personal resolutions for 2016?