In the world of church dynamics, size often becomes an unspoken measuring stick against which churches compare themselves. We find ourselves looking at other congregations, hoping to do what they do, but just a little better. We mistakenly believe that size equates to church impact, neglecting to appreciate the unique strengths and effectiveness of smaller churches. As someone who has had the privilege of working with churches of various sizes and denominations, I’ve come to realize that size should never be the sole determinant of a church’s success.
In today’s digital age, where information and inspiration from churches around the world are just a click away, it’s easy for church staff to become discouraged by comparisons. We can easily fall into the trap of trying to replicate what other churches are doing, pouring our resources into creating something we’re not. The truth is, each church has its own unique challenges, styles, and strengths. Instead of focusing on what others are doing, we should embrace our own uniqueness and build upon what our congregation already loves about us.
Sure, it’s tempting to watch online services from other churches and scour stage design websites for inspiration – and that’s not all bad. The challenge lies in translating those ideas from larger churches with more resources to our own smaller congregations. We must first acknowledge our capabilities and work within our limitations. Every church has its own set of strengths. Some excel in drama, others in music, and some in preaching. It’s important to recognize and embrace these strengths, knowing that we can’t provide everything that larger churches might offer—and that’s perfectly okay.
One of the biggest hurdles small churches face is a lack of manpower. With limited staff, worship pastors often find themselves wearing multiple hats—leading the praise band, overseeing production/tech, directing the choir, and working with drama teams. In the midst of juggling these responsibilities, programming can sometimes suffer, resulting in services that feel disjointed or chaotic.
To address this challenge, every church – regardless of size – needs a “content gatekeeper.” This programming director ensures that the elements included in the service align with the overall theme and message of the church or service. It means making intentional decisions, saying “no” to things that may be entertaining but don’t contribute to the worship experience.
In my humble opinion, the key to a well-executed weekend service lies in the small details, those often unseen behind-the-scenes efforts that work together to create a seamless and impactful experience for our congregation. While it’s easy to overlook the significance of rehearsals, considering them mundane or unnecessary, they play a vital role in the overall success of the service. Through intentional and focused practice, we engrain the precise execution of transitions, announcements, and videos into our minds, ensuring that every aspect of the service flows smoothly.
This level of preparation not only enhances the quality of the worship experience but also helps prevent distractions that could potentially hinder engagement and connection with God. Luckily, this is something that can be done by any church of any size. By investing time and effort into perfecting these details, we create an environment where our congregation can fully immerse themselves in worship, undisturbed by technical mishaps or haphazard transitions. The small details may seem insignificant, but their collective impact is what brings the service to life, inviting our congregation to encounter God in a profound and meaningful way.
Pay careful attention to your own work, for then you will get the satisfaction of a job well done, and you won’t need to compare yourself to anyone else.
– Galatians 6:4 (NLT)
My advice to churches, both big and small, is to continue seeking inspiration from the internet and other sources. Adapt stimulating ideas to suit the heart of your church. Don’t doubt your creativity or abilities. Understand your strengths and play to them. Rather than discarding ideas because they seem impossible to execute, find ways to modify them to fit your teams and budget. Take risks, be creative, and strive for intentionality in every element of your service.
Remember, our goal is not to give the church a great show but to create an atmosphere of worship that allows the congregation to connect with Christ. Regardless of the size of our church, we have the power to provide impactful experiences that inspire and engage our congregation. Let’s focus on what makes our church special and leverage our unique strengths to fulfill our mission. Together, we can make a lasting impact on the lives of those we serve.
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