Growing Smaller Churches, No Matter the Obstacles

Thomas CostelloChurch Leadership Leave a Comment

As you seek to expand your church’s outreach, you’ll encounter new obstacles. Some of the larger organizations appear to hurdle these growth difficulties with ease. Alternatively, growing smaller churches might be a struggle.

If you consider your church to be smaller in size, you’ll always be looking for new ways to engage and expand. However, what may work for large churches, won’t really work for your smaller church. Here are some of the ideal ways for even the smallest churches to share the Gospel.

The obstacles outlined here are going to resonate with a small church. Additionally, some of these challenges might be the toughest you face. But if you’re struggling to grow, there are innovative ways to overcome it. And this roster of best practices for growing smaller churches is for you.

The Elephant in the Room – Budget Challenges

The multi-campus churches don’t seem to have the same growth challenges that their smaller church counterparts do. And it’s easier to overcome those growing pains when you have enough money to do it.

But the smaller churches, with fewer members and limited resources, can struggle to grow. Sometimes it’s a lack of funds that contributes to stifled growth. 

The average small church in the U.S. has roughly 150 members. With so few members, it only makes sense that the church finances aren’t going to be as sizable as others.

Geography plays a role in church growth and budgets, too. For example, those churches in more rural areas aren’t going to have the same level of attendance. They also won’t have sizable operational costs either. But the finances of a rural church might also pale in comparison to the resources of one in a major metropolitan area.

Fewer church members mean fewer potential revenue streams. So small churches should prepare for potential growth goals with smart budgeting. You can’t necessarily compete with the spending of a megachurch. However, you can plan a strategy with the resources you have. And look to outline a path for budgeting to preserve your budgets ongoing.

Consider trimming unnecessary costs your church may be incurring now. Instead, reinvest those saved dollars into a growth strategy fund. Just creating a growth budget can ensure you prioritize growth efforts.

Over time, even those minor contributions can translate to significant resources. It will allow you to face growth challenges head-on, and with a little cash in the bank.

And make sure you optimize digital methods for donations. Digital giving can sometimes be the differentiator your small church needs. And convenience alone can inspire more contributions.

Sharing Your Growth Vision Ongoing

Share your growth vision with your ministry members. Do it in a way that they’ll believe you. Report how you’re evolving as an organization. Discuss openly the initiatives you have planned. Be passionate about how you’re connecting with the community and about the people you’re assisting.

Talk about your plan for growth during service. Tell authentically relatable stories about benefits the benefits of church growth. You can also discuss giving devotionally towards the church’s goals. Let your passion for spreading the Gospel guide how you discuss church growth with your members.

You have a good handle on finances. You have put in place a fantastic giving mechanism. So, don’t let up on your efforts. Being transparent with your audience ongoing about your growth mission can inspire others. It will also encourage generosity, both in the community and with your donations.

A Smaller Faith Army Means Less Time

Smaller churches with fewer members usually only have one or two key pastors or leaders. And there is a lot of responsibility for one or two people to handle. It’s easy for smaller church communities to fall short of membership growth goals because there is simply a lack of time to do all the steps necessary for attracting new people.

If you’re a solo-leader church, you probably know the overwhelming feeling. There aren’t enough hours in the day to get to everything you hoped. If you don’t have the volunteer help right now, start by prioritizing your daily activities.

Write down those goals. Additionally, cut out habits or efforts that aren’t impacting your small church’s growth. Step away from the phone calls if you must. Instead, devote segments of your day to bringing in new members.

Even if you’re only able to devote an hour here or a day there, every step in the right direction is forward momentum.

Leveraging Volunteer Opportunities in Your Small Church

Small churches have day-to-day operations, just like the larger churches. However, they won’t always have the budget to hire the necessary staff needed. Of course, as you grow, you can justify paying someone to handle video production or church branding efforts.

But for now, one of the most significant things you can do is rely on the help of trusted volunteers. Inspire members with specific experiences to want to help grow your community.

Delegate some of the member recruiting to current faith members with incredible stories to share. Focus on sharing the light and celebrate the unique talent you already have in your Sunday service audience.

Let member volunteers help your small church grow based on those blessings you have instead of focusing on addressing the challenges you may not have solutions for right now.

Connecting with New Members Requires the Right Tools

Smaller churches won’t necessarily have the extensive budgets to invest in robust marketing campaigns. And there usually isn’t extra to pay for ongoing advertising efforts. However, there are several tools available to help. These tools can increase the reach and frequency of the church message for free, too.

Evangelism can happen anywhere there is a conversation. So maximizing the advantages of free or inexpensive digital communication tools is paramount. Social media, for example, doesn’t require paid ads to achieve growth results.

Video testimonials with a smartphone work just fine as social media content. And those stories can inspire new members. Make sure you’re tapping into the full range of free-to-use and free trials at your disposal, including organizational apps, project communication software, and social media channels.

Growing Smaller Churches by Increasing Personal Invitations

There are so many technology solutions out there for churches to use for engagement. It can sometimes be overwhelming. But one method of church growth that should never be overlooked is the power of the personal invitation.

It’s the most direct approach for church growth. Additionally, it relies on you and your ministry’s community ability to encourage friends and family to come.

From a small church leadership perspective, look for ways to make personal invitations part of your community’s DNA. Consider introducing new sermon series that would interest first-time visitors. Create faith groups who are open to connecting new members with taking that next step. 

Rolling Out the Red Carpet for New Visitors 

Church growth isn’t just rooted in attracting new members once. It’s about retaining those new members and providing a path to Christ they wouldn’t traditionally find elsewhere.

When new visitors come to your small church, how are they greeted? Do you or other members talk with them after the service? Is there a process for inviting them back again?

If you’re not sure, you could be missing out on an opportunity to authentically engage. And you’ll miss out on turning a visitor into a long-term member.

Consider rolling out the red carpet, in a way, to make sure their experiences resonated. Offer to pray with them and introduce them to other church members. Offer guidance in joining your spiritual groups.

Be available to meet individually, too, should the visitor have other faith questions. Ultimately, making newcomers feel welcome and “at home” should be a pillar of your small church growth strategy.

Improve Your Visibility within Your Community

Small churches can always seek to grow their presence within their own towns. But you can spread your efforts to include neighboring cities and backyard communities, as well. Casting a wider net can help your small church grow.

Look for opportunities to connect with the general public in helpful ways. And it doesn’t have to be a faith-based message to be helpful.

Maybe you can offer a church hall as a venue for a school board meeting. In some cases, churches have the space needed to host community yard sales, too. Consider your church resources as a way to connect. And make them available to improve your community visibility.

Don’t forget to get involved in local charitable contributions. For example, you can explore being a designated drop-off location for Toys for Tots this year. Or perhaps you can sponsor a food drive for a local pantry donation. Additionally, maybe there’s an opportunity to organize a group of volunteers for a park clean-up project.

These efforts won’t necessarily require a lot of time or require big budgets. However, they will continue to position your small church as the heart of the community you call home. This kind of visibility will help attract new visitors ongoing and make them aware of your small church’s mission. 

Does Your Church Have a Well-Defined Brand?

You might assume that branding is reserved only for businesses. But a church without a clear brand voice can also get lost in the faith-based noise of relenting media. Your small church’s brand should resonate with your community.

Equally important is your church’s ability to separate from the rest. Think about what your service experience offers. What does your church do differently? What do existing members say is the best part of your ministry?

Then build on those strength pillars. Maybe it’s music or relatable teachings during your sermons. Perhaps it’s a relaxed environment for newcomers. It could be that you have incredible involvement with your youth ministry.

Whatever your small church considers to be its best foot forward, lead with and ensure your brand represents it well. People will soon come to know and recognize your church for its best attributes, ultimately becoming an inviting place for new visitors.

Growing Smaller Churches through Evangelization

Pastors have a valuable window of time every week to connect with a captive audience. Use that conversation time wisely. For example, you can do so by encouraging members to evangelize. Evangelizing for results translates to small church growth.

You can speak to your audience about what resonates in their lives. Additionally, you’ll focus on sharing the Gospel in meaningful ways. But remember, don’t just provide knowledge or information. Instead, preach action and inspiration. After all, it’s action that will lead to small church growth.

It’s not always about what you actually know; it’s about what you DO with what you know. And providing clear, actionable steps for your members to take for a deeper relationship with God will encourage them to evangelize. Call yourself and your members to action during every service. As a result, you will begin seeing an increase in new visitors and small church growth.

Attracting New Members Where They Are – At Home

Some of the numbers suggest church growth is on the rise. However, other data suggests people aren’t physically attending church like they used to in years past. Driven by the pandemic, more people are seeking faith outlets online. And even the most committed churchgoers are growing their faith digitally.

Growing small churches today means leveraging every virtual resource available.

Small churches without online presence might fall behind in the growth movement. So, look for ways to incorporate your Sunday services online. Your church website is a great online venue for worship. However, even a social media live channel can produce engagement results.

Also, look for ways to digitally document your services. For example, post past sermons on your YouTube channel. Creating a digital library will allow you to share those links later. And they can inspire anyone who missed it to go back and experience the message. 

Small Church Resources You May Not Realize You Have

The REACHRIGHT Studios team assists ministries with a host of resources. For example, small churches like yours can explore better website development. But one resource, in particular, is the Google for Non-Profits Grant. What would $10,000 per month extra in your outreach budget allow you to accomplish?

Churches that sign up for Google Ad Grants may receive $10,000 each month. And this can translate to big growth potential. Growing smaller churches is easier with an infusion of funds!

Hundreds of ministries have leveraged this program. There is no trick or hidden fee involved. The greatest benefit is that any registered non-profit can take advantage of it.

We can submit your application on your behalf to ensure you obtain the grant. Once accepted, you can immediately start running advertisements. As an example, the typical church spends just $50 of their grant each month on their own, leaving $9,950 in ad dollars unspent! Imagine the growth potential!

Growing Smaller Churches with Goals & Prayer

As you create growth plans for your small church, keep them realistic. Shoot for the attainable. For example, setting a goal to add 50 new members by the end of the year is a goal that might be doable. Sure, your goal is to share the Gospel with everyone. However, start small with tangible goals.

Pray about it. Talk to your existing faith leaders and church members. Ask for their feedback and growth ideas. You can then carve out a strategy rooted in easy-to-reach goals for growth. You can then create a clear plan for execution. 

It’s no secret that churches and religious organizations are facing growth challenges in today’s society. As a result, many church leaders have been seeking innovative ways to attract new members. Fortunately, there is hope for growing smaller churches!

Consider tapping into these strategies for small church growth. Your church community will be well on its way to engagement success. And the more you can engage, the more your membership grows.

Remember: it’s not about what you know. It’s also about what you do with what you know! We can’t wait to see your small church grow with these tips.

When you’re ready to explore your eligibility for the Google for Non-Profits Grant, let REACHRIGHT help! Our team can assist with other tools and resources, as well. Smaller church growth is possible with the right partners.

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