There is a tension when church leaders talk about church size and church growth. On one hand, church size does not automatically equate to effectiveness, faithfulness, or commitment. On the other hand, a lot of people make a lot of excuses for not growing and certainly can be found trying to spiritualize their ineffectiveness. What I mean by this is that just because a church is large or growing doesn’t necessarily mean it’s healthy or orthodox and, similarly, a church’s lack of growth can be and often is a sign that the church has ineffective praxis or even bad theology.
With that nuance in mind, I’d like to share with you five challenges for small town churches to consider in regards to church growth:
(1) Don’t give up on Jesus’ mission. I know many leaders who, over time, become a bit “numb” to God’s mission, whether it is because they are tired or just overwhelmed. We can’t forget that the primary mission of the church is to make disciples who make disciples who make disciples. On a regular basis the Great Commission (Matt. 28:18-20) needs to be both reflected upon and articulated. Yes, worship gatherings are contexts where the church can be built up (1 Cor. 14), but those moments of empowerment are, I think, intended to fuel our ministry to the world.
(2) Don’t give up on taking risks. We all likely know that John Wimber spelled “faith” as R.I.S.K., an idea that’s been handed down to us by many Vineyard leaders. We need to be