What Large Churches Can Learn from Smaller Churches

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Most church leaders look to churches with larger weekend attendance for insights and next-step strategies. I do this. If you’re a church leader, you also likely do this.

But increasingly I’m seeing that effective leaders are learning from a much wider “bandwidth” of sources, including healthy churches which are smaller in size.

If you have a leadership role in a larger church, here are five important learnings you can take from a healthy smaller church.

1.   How to mobilize a larger proportion of your congregation for evangelism
In his work on Natural Church Development sociologist Christian Schwarz discovered that, on average, healthy smaller churches are far more effective in relational evangelism than larger churches.

2.   How to respond quickly to community needs
Healthy smaller churches have an edge in their ability to be “first responders”, quickly mobilizing their congregations to provide immediate assistance.

3.   How to truly make “every member a minister”
Lacking a large talent pool of “professional ministers”, smaller churches tend to have a stronger sense of the “priesthood of all believers”.

4.   How to honour heritage as well as vision
Larger churches sometimes sacrifice heritage on the altar of vision. We can learn from healthy smaller churches the wisdom in honouring our past.

5.   How to do community as a “value”, versus as a “program”
In healthy smaller churches, the grieving family is inundated with meals and offers of practical assistance without even a mention in the bulletin.

I’m not saying here that smaller churches are better than larger churches, any more than I would say that larger churches are better than smaller churches.

I’m simply pointing out that in our race to learn the latest and greatest from larger churches we would also do well to pause from time to time and see what we can learn from healthy, smaller churches.

There can be great leadership riches to be found there.

Next time I’ll note lessons that smaller churches would do well to learn from healthy larger churches.

What would you add to this list?

the author

Scott Cochrane

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