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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 FIVE of Five

I have pastored four small size churches (under 200) I have worked in churches from 500-1200. There is a difference. Knowing the difference dynamics helps to develop your in your ministry. And all four at the beginning wanted to say small in size. And there was a reason for their belief.
In smaller churches you could have a few Sunday School classes, they could all be in one class as far as they are concern. Children and Adults.. Thank goodness at FBC Altoona we had a graded Sunday School. The reason for few classes is few workers want to be committed to teaching. Which was not the case at FBC. We had teachers who taught almost the entire time I was pastor of the church. Once a teacher they wanted to stay a teacher. Once a piano player, always a piano player in our church. (right Beverly) same for teachers: (right Charity, Mabel and Michael)
Some smaller churches are small because they can not afford to pay for a professional or skilled minister. They may have a pastor who has little or no leadership skills. They may have a pastor who has no desire to see growth in the church membership. Sometimes the pastor is in total control of the ministry and the people just leave without saying anything. One preacher I know stayed twenty five years, and over 200 people left the church in that time. That church stayed small, really small.

Some members of a smaller church feel threatened when they see the church grow in size. They see the new members and are suspicious of their motives. When new people come in to the church and join and they are placed in to leadership, they are upset.

Too often when a new pastor comes into the church and mentions growth, the members attempt to maintain the status quo or even decrease the size of their congregation. Often when the new staff worker or new pastor hints that the church is not spiritually healthy, he suggests that the church is in a recession. If the church is not fulfilling its biblical commission, and he suggests that their behavior and thinking is hindering the spread of the gospel, their reaction is one of disbelief. They are shocked and offended at such a thought.

For the pastor to suggest that they need to move away from the past if they are going to grow, is an issue that will create friction. He needs to acknowledge that the work done in the past, for sure, has made the present possible, but they need to move ahead to see growth.

In this paper I was trying to give the dynamics of a smaller church.

A FOOTNOTE:
There is always the exception to all these principles, conscious and unconscious, that determine human behavior and attitudes. The size of the church has a great significance on the minister and the ministries of the church. Size has an enormous impact on how a church functions. I have heard this for years.

Moving a smaller church to the next size church will take change. It will take the leadership’s ability to teach biblical truth in such a way that the membership will desire to see change. It will take the leadership to see some of these dynamics and adjust their effort.

Maybe if the pastor/teacher can teach biblical principles to the membership and be patient, the Lord might see fit to change the attitudes of the congregation about growing into a healthy church. Maybe two in four churches he can.

Our spiritual condition requires nourishment. Though the avenues through which we are fed are many, we can pretty much sum our diet up with the following five activities: PRAYER, BIBLE STUDY, WORSHIP, FELLOWSHIP and SERVICE.

That a church is smaller doesn’t mean it’s more or less holy or worldly. It doesn’t mean they are more biblical in how they do ministry. It doesn’t mean that they are small because they do things right. But you can have a smaller size church and be all the right things. But if you have any of the dynamics I have mentioned in this paper, you do not have a healthy church.

(You know you are a red neck small church if.....)
If your church is controlled by: (or)
powerful people
poor leadership
programs that are outdated
pleasing people
presumption of the probability of correct belief
pastor controlled
personality led
personal opinions
philosophy of worldliness
presuming you are spiritual with less people
petrified of conflict
plagued by fear at the idea of change
proverbial traditions
presumed theological knowledge
polarization groups (breaking up into opposing factions)
policy shoddiness
popular trends
porcupine mentality (sticky situations are avoided)
prehistorical educational materials
prescribed non-biblical legalistic rules
you have two outhouses in back of the church
persist in placing the nursery in the back of the church
pianos in your church hasn’t worked for years
pivoting (relying) on own your own internal leadership
parochialism Limited thinking
past history driven
patriarchal families controlled
pragmatic thinking rather than on theological principles
posters of missionaries letters dated 1989 so what if it is 2006
pulpit still has bulletins from three years ago.
preacher tells red neck jokes from the pulpit (Dr. David Bryant)
professional pastors are viewed as less spiritual


Drafted by Charles E. Whisnant on December 08 2006 Proof check by Charity Whisnant 12-10-06