What Small Churches Need (Ministry in Small Churches pt 6)

What do small churches need, and how does their size affect the meeting of these needs?

  1. Like large churches, small churches need a mix of gifts in leadership. I think the APEST formulation captures this mix most clearly: Apostle, Prophet, Evangelist, Shepherd, Teacher. Many leaders–maybe even most–are competent, even excellent, in more than one area. No one but Jesus was excellent in all five.
    Ergo, small churches need more gifts in ministry than a single pastor can possess. They often do not have the financial resources to support even one mature, experienced pastor with family, however.
    This lack of resources means that small churches usually cannot hire to add gifts to the mix. They must depend on laypeople.
    Large churches often have an unhealthy divide between paid staff & laity. Sometimes this is caused by the pressures to be polished and “perfect”. Sometimes it’s cultural, due to the religious heritage of a particular community. Sometimes it’s caused by laziness & affluence: “We’ll hire someone to do that, too.” Whatever the cause, it’s always a warning sign. In small churches, this divide is deadly. People MUST be working together, using their gifts to build the church & minister to the community.

Can a small church assess its own peoples’ gifts for ministry & strategically hire a team of two or more bivocational ministers with complementary gifts? While avoiding the “CEO builds his team” in favor of building a leadership team of equals? The added complication of adding a second job outside the church makes this difficult.

It’s easier to see how this would work in a church that already has a bivocational pastor. Easier still how it would work in a church plant, or a missionary setting.

It’s harder for me to see how an established small church with a history of full-time do-it-all pastors would make this switch.

I think churches that are elder led might find it easier that churches that are pastor-led.

Still working through this one.

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