Mission Possible for the Small Church
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By Kay Kotan & Blake Bradford
The majority of churches in America are small churches. In fact, 70 percent of all congregations have memberships of less than a hundred people, and many are getting smaller. The median attendance has declined every year for the last two decades. It’s now less than half of what it was twenty years ago. A 2020 Faith Communities Today (FACT) study shows that half of US congregations have sixty-five people or fewer.
Small churches have an amazing capacity to bounce back over and over again. They are resilient. Since they often have less than a full-time pastor, there is a strong laity leadership preference ready to step in and do what it takes. Small churches also have what we refer to as a superpower that large churches can’t touch: the ability to be highly relational from the get-go. Small churches that have discovered and know how to leverage this superpower are vital, healthy churches having God-sized impact in their communities.
Too often, small churches concentrate on what they can’t do. We offer this resource to lift up what small churches can do! For example, smaller churches have greater percentages of participation, giving, and engaged members than larger churches, according to the 2020 FACT study. Unfortunately, many resources for churches and church leaders are created for larger churches. This resource has been created specifically for the small church.
As we move out of the pandemic into the endemic, postmodern world, many appreciate smaller, more intimate gatherings. In fact, one of the most important things Millennials and Gen Z—the generations missing most from churches—are looking for is authentic community, described as “a culture that fosters authentic community is less about programs, and more about an environment where people care for each other, engage beyond a Sunday, take on the responsibility to look after others’ needs, and is open to new people.” Wow, doesn’t that sound just like the relationships most small churches offer?
To engage the relational superpower, the small church must simplify and clarify its approach to almost everything. Who wants to be tied up in complex church bureaucracy or have no idea how anything operates around the church? A little intentionality will go a long way in the smaller church. In smaller congregations, usually nothing is documented because “how things are done” is communicated orally. No one has intentionally tried to create complex systems or less-than-transparent processes. It has just happened over time. “It’s the way it’s always been done.”
Mission Possible for the Small Church is designed to help the small church simplify leadership approaches, church decision-making structures, and approaches to ministry. At the same time, it also offers tools to help clarify, focus, and guide small churches so each can operate effectively and efficiently. Ultimately, we hope and pray this resource helps the small church become a lean, relationally-focused, disciple-making movement with greater Kingdom impact!
Gather a small group of leaders to read and study this resource together. “Team Questions” are at the end of each chapter to help you process the topics and ideas and determine the faithful steps you feel called to take for your context. So, let’s get started and discover together how to simplify and clarify your ministries to reach more people for Christ.
What Readers are saying about Mission Possible for the Small Church
Kay Kotan and Blake Bradford hit the bullseye in sharing how small congregations can simplify their leadership approaches and maximize their capacity for ministry. The authors tailor a ministry approach for small congregations that enables them to be more effective and efficient. All small congregations will benefit from their eight principles for simple ministry planning. If you are a small congregation, this book is a game-changer.
The small church is a beautiful and wonderfully unique entity. Mission Possible for the Small Church gives a solid foundation and practical guidance for smaller churches that need to streamline structures in missionally effective ways. This book is an excellent resource for any local church pastor, seminary student, district superintendent, or lay leader seeking alternative ways to lead the small church.
Dr. Jaye Johnson