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I am the Pastor/Teacher of Rivers of Joy Baptist Church in Minford, Ohio since August 2008.  I am married to Charity since June 14, 1969.  I have four grown children.   Having served in the local church for over forty years as Pastor/Teacher, Asso., Youth Pastor, Minister of Education, Building Upkeep, Camp Director, Sunday School Teacher, etc. Also I have worked in the public place for as many years as I have preached. Charity and her sister are co owner of Union Mills Conf. (Bakery) in West Portsmouth Ohio

The Dynamics of Small Church Ministry
Part Three of Five

I had my theories about why churches like Lusby Mills didn’t really desire to grow, but the principle seemed a little far out at the time.

Now I understand that the operating principles that had enabled Ashland Avenue to grow might not have been possible for the smaller church in Lusby Mills, but the biblical principles were the same. People, Money, Time, Staff, Population, etc.

The Importance of the Ideology

SOME COMMENTS ON WHY SMALL CHURCHES IN GENERAL LIKE TO STAY SMALL,
And why otherwise successful Pastors more often than not cannot break the cycle of the small church mentality.

What happens in these churches that creates the atmosphere of a No Growth Church Mentality. A no growth church mentality

Until you understand that there is a reason why churches are the size they have become you will set yourself up for leadership blunders and missteps. Shall I stop and mention a few that I made in a few churches because I was blinded to the implication of church size.

A Neutralized View of a Church’s Size
In the larger church, as in Ashland Avenue Baptist, they had the people, the time, the leadership, and numerous programs to help them accomplish their objective goals. Whereas Lusby Mills didn’t have the resources.

Most people have their own idea of the size church that they would like to attend on Sunday. It’s a size-culture preference. They have the idea that the size church they prefer will meet their spiritual need better than another size church in the area. So you have people looking for churches that meet their idea of what a spiritual, biblical church looks like. You also have pastors who have the same mind set, they see the church as being spiritual if it’s a certain size.

For example, some people believe that the Senior Pastor needs to visit and care for all the older members of the church. Well, that is great in a small church setting of 150 or less, but not very probable if the church is over 200 or say 800 people. One pastor could not do that.

Another example would be at Mansfield Baptist or Calvary Baptist, we had at least four full time Pastors on staff. Also there were another six or seven support staff to take care of the many facets of ministry. We were able to increase the quality of ministry. As a Youth Pastor I had a full time salary (well in some churches the salary would be viewed as 1/4 times) but I could spend my entire time with the youth. In a small church as pastor, I had myself or volunteers.

THE VERY NATURE OF THE SMALLER CHURCH SETTING

Small churches like to keep their money in the bank and not spend it. Larger churches seem never to have enough money to operate on.
The larger church will use organizational techniques from the business world, and often times might become too results-oriented and focused on quantity outcomes (attendance, membership, stewardship)

The small church by its very personality will give inexperienced, domineering, opinionated, members far more power over the whole body. In Lusby Mills one 80 year old man who had been a deacon since 1939 controlled the church. In a larger church, such as FBC in Hammond, there is no way one or a dozen people could affect the outcome of a church. But a half dozen women at a small church could affect the outcome of any decision.

In a smaller church everyone knows every one, you know. When a family member of this small group expresses strong opposition to the direction set by the leaders or pastor , that small group’s misery can hold the whole congregation hostage. If they threaten to leave, or withhold their money, the majority of the people will urge the leaders to discontinue their project. One church that I pastored, the average offering was over two thousand dollars a week. And in a Sunday’s time, the offering was down to less than seven hundred dollars. And the leaders said, "Charles, I think you should put the attendance board back up."

In a small church setting you can’t get a complete consensus from a group of 50 to 150, about which kind of Sunday School material to use, or what direction the church should go with the music. And it seems in a smaller church, it’s a rule that everyone in the congregation must be kept happy. You know old brother Smith and his wife must be kept happy. You can’t take a new initiative without hurting someone’s feelings so you just give in and do nothing. Unless you are brave enough to lead and to confront childish members in spite of its disagreeableness There has to be another way to accomplish the.objectives!

Every church thinks they know the right size church. They have their idea what size church will be spiritual and biblical in nature. "Well Christ had his church in Jerusalem at 120, that is the right size." Right, of course, the disproportionate concept of what Christ desires from the church. I don’t think Christ is against numbers or growth in any church, no matter how large a church becomes. First Baptist, Hammond, was no less spiritual than Bigelow Church of less than 150 people.
Drafted by Charles E. Whisnant 12 09 06 Checked by Charity Whisnant

A sign that your church is biblical and spiritual is not by the size of your church. Its a sign of your theology.