This Week in Ministry: Blessings and Curses of Small Churches

In this week’s Ministry Briefing we’ll take a look at the blessings and curses of small churches and the ways that large churches can work with them to minister more effectively. Since the start of the recession in 2008, church budgets have suffered mightily, with many hitting bottom in 2010 when 46% of churches reported that they failed to meet their budgets.

Times have gotten marginally better, with only 32% failing to meet budget in 2015, but wages remain stagnant and only 26% of churches are taking in more than projected in their budgets. Clearly many challenges remain for churches of all sizes, but especially for the smaller ones that are either under budget or just scraping by. Is there any hope?

Alongside sluggish giving trends, there are some churches that are innovating and finding new ways to become more efficient. For starters, bi-vocational pastors are on the rise, replacing an estimated 10% of full time pastors. True this may require some creative ministry plans and leadership structures, but ministries are proving more vital as a result.

In addition, while giving isn’t ideal at this point for the majority of churches, a season of greater financial stability is good for churches since it minimizes conflict. This frees churches up to serve their communities and to avoid potentially costly legal battles. The more vitality that small churches find, the better, as small churches are essential for future outreach.

An estimated 90% of churches in the world are small, with less than 150 attendees. These small churches have the ability to adapt to challenging situations, to partner together, and to fly under the cultural radar. Larger churches can share their resources and knowledge with these congregations, recognizing that the advancement of the Gospel requires small and large churches to work together. With 7 billion people in the world, we need churches of every size to become healthy and to grow.

Whether you’re over budget or under budget, large or small, your church is an important part of God’s mission.

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