In the Future Church book, I share seven universal principles of real church growth. These principles were sparked when I woke up at 2am in early 2016. Underlying all of these laws is the belief that[...]
Some of the hardest working, most devoted pastors work in the smallest churches in terms of attendance. As a matter of fact, even though the percentages vary based on which study you reference, it is widely agreed that the majority of pastors in the United States serve churches that average fewer than 100 attendees on the weekend.
If you’re one of those pastors, you probably feel more alone, more tired, and (at times) more frustrated than pastors of churches 10 times yours in attendance. And that was before the COVID disruption.
On the other hand, like most pastors, you want to see your church grow. Growth would mean that people were responding to the gospel of Jesus … which is almost universally the motivation of the pastors I meet. And, like most pastors, you’ve read the books or been to the conferences or listened to the podcasts about how to spark growth in your church. As a pastor of a small church, you wonder if these “church growth best practices” only apply to megachurches or if they might foster growth in your church as well.
I co-wrote Future Church with Cory Hartman. Cory and I have worked together on multiple book projects at this point, and he’s in the middle of co-writing a book with Dave Rhodes that will be the follow-up to Future Church. He’s a gifted writer and communicator with a deep love for the local church.
And he was a small church pastor.
As a pastor of a small church, you wonder if these “church growth best practices” only apply to megachurches or if they might foster growth in your church as well.
My personal experience as a church staff member has been in larger churches. In developing the 7 Laws of Real Church Growth that are at the heart of Future Church, I wondered if they would apply to smaller churches, too, or if I was missing an element of the small church experience. Cory has assured me that these laws and the approach we articulate in Future Church is just as needed in small churches as it is in megachurches.
As some of you may know, the first draft of Future Church was much longer than the publisher was looking for. Cory and I wrote a book that was about 30,000 words too long! In the editing process, a chapter specifically about Cory’s experiences in pastoring two different small churches—and his attempts to implement the standard best practices for church growth, had to be cut.
All of the cuts related to those 30,000 words were painful, but I hated to see that chapter go. The lessons Cory learned trying to apply church growth best practices in the small churches he pastored are invaluable to pastors of all church sizes, but particularly to pastors of smaller churches.