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.
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. (http://travisstephens.me/5-ingredients-to-a-great-childrens-ministry/)
2. 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. (http://travisstephens.me/six-things-you-should-know-about-first-time-guests/)
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.
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.
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.