Health and Growth

The Biggest Obstacles Small Churches Face (And How to Overcome Them)

Learn how small churches can overcome their biggest obstacles to missional growth and impact.

The Biggest Obstacles Small Churches Face (And How to Overcome Them)

Frank Barry

What are the biggest obstacles that small churches face? 

It's a great question. If you put a hundred small church pastors in a room, they would probably all say these three things. These three things would come up. 

1. No money

The average small church size in America is 150 members. There's thousands upon thousands, maybe even hundreds of thousands of churches that are that size. They all face the problem of having no money. There are two sides of that coin.

There's the first side is have a great budget, sticking to it and cutting anything out of it that is just not necessary. When you have a small amount of money, be great at budgeting. It's just like personal finance. When you and your family or early on and have your first jobs, you live tight on a budget and the best thing you can do is to make your budget and stick to it. Church plants and small churches alike live on a budget and cut out anything that just is unnecessary. 

The other side of that is be really good at fundraising. If I'm a small church, if I'm a church plant, the first thing I need to do is implement digital giving in my church. Obviously, we're, and we're all about digital giving. Whether you use or not, this is important because you want to make giving to your church as easy as possible for anybody that comes in the door. You want to enable those first-time givers, those new givers, to give right there in service. They didn’t bring a checkbook. They didn’t bring cash. Make it available right on their phone through the App Store. I can give right on my phone. You're more likely to get me to give if you do this. Give them the tech and then become great at fundraising.

2. No vision

Be great at casting the vision of your church to your church. Tell your church where you're headed, report on how you're growing or the programs you've put in place or the people that you're helping, and how you're connecting with the community. Tell the stories. Get up on stage. Use the Bible. Tell the stories and talk to people about giving sacrificially towards the vision of the church. You budget well, you implement a great giving solution, and you talk about it often. It's going to help you out. Hopefully, your budget will grow. 

3. No time

Usually small churches have a senior pastor. Maybe you have some interns, a youth pastor that's part-time, or some other small semblance of staff. But generally speaking, small churches have a small team. The senior folks that are running the show don't have enough time in the day. When you don't have enough time, it's an interesting thing. We've all got 24 hours. It all comes down to priority. So as a small church leader or a church plant leader, prioritizing what you're doing and focusing with laser focus on the most important things that you can do to grow your church and to create a healthy, thriving church, that's what you need to do.

What I like to do in terms of like daily habits and goals is to write them out at the beginning of the day. You’re asking yourself: “What do I need to get done today?” Then you're really focused and you're not living under the tyranny of the latest email. You're not living by phone calls. You're not living by voice messages, text messages, or social media. You've written down your priorities and you've laser-focused on those things so you make the most of your time. That will alleviate some of the pressures of having no time as a small church.

4. No staff

Every small church wants more staff, but you doesn’t have the money to hire them. But what is the church really good at? Recruiting volunteers. Getting your people involved in everything in church life, in worship, in ushering, in counting, in kids’ ministry. Inspire volunteers. When you don't have the staff, inspire volunteers and create your core leadership team. Maybe you've got a couple of small group leaders or a few families that you're really connected with and use those people, their motivation, their heart, their drive, what they're about, to grow your church in lieu of staff members.

Building your core team of volunteers as a small church is vitally connected to what you're doing in the big picture—building a legacy. Inspire them and put them to work because oftentimes they're underutilized and you don't know how to utilize them. So figure that out. Augment your staff with great volunteers in order to overcome that challenge. Small churches can thrive. They can overcome money, they can overcome time, and they can overcome staff. Just focus on being a great light in the community. Don't focus on what you don't have, and instead, start focusing on how to fix all of those issues by implementing these strategies.

Show Notes

Read the full blog of this episode here:

Today on Modern Church Leader, COO Frank Barry explains how small churches can overcome their biggest obstacles to missional growth and impact.

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The Biggest Obstacles Small Churches Face (And How to Overcome Them)