Smaller Churches Can Get “un-stuck”


As a leader you want to create and capture momentum. If your church is slowly growing, struggling or just plain stuck, there is a process that can help you get moving and get growing.

Here’s a process you can adapt for you and your church. This doesn’t take months of study and meetings to get started. A few weeks of prayer, honest conversation and planning and you are off and running. It’s not a race, but it does have an intentional start line.

What is your heart’s desire?

It’s easy for pastors and other churches to be inwardly conflicted about their true dreams and desires. The church is a difficult place to lead because nearly everyone thinks they are in charge or should be. It’s a difficult place for a pastor to live. Fishbowl living, with everyone watching, brings pressures others don’t experience. Yet when your heart’s desires are aligned with God’s heart and desires, (Psalm 37:4), it’s all worth it and then some.

The practical application is to be honest with yourself and God about what you really want for your church. In a quiet hour or so with God, a cup of coffee and your journal to write, you can gain clarity. The reality of who we are and what we want as leaders is not a mystery; the mystery is why we don’t get honest about it. What do you want as a leader and for your church?

What we want as leaders is not a mystery; the mystery is why we don’t get honest about it. Click & Tweet!

Have a candid talk with your board.

Our founding and senior pastor, Kevin Myers, has led 12Stone® Church for 28 years. Some pastors might be ready to slow down, maybe even coast a little. But “PK”, as we call him, is more fired-up than ever! He wants to reach lost people now more than ever!! He was honest with himself and God, and honest with the board… he is all in!

This is the significant question, is your board and staff all in with you? No matter how fired-up and committed you are, you can’t lead without the enthusiastic support of your key leaders. In fact, it’s more than “support.” The idea is not, “Wow, look at pastor go!” It’s, “We’re all in this together!” The top leadership must demonstrate full buy-in with their time, personal resources, their words and actions.

Don’t let “insanity” be your church model.

You know the unofficial definition of insanity don’t you? Doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results. The “crazy” thing is, if that’s true I know lots of “insane” churches.

Change is required. Not change for the sake of change, but wise and strategic change that will make a difference. Change isn’t comfortable. People will resist it, including the leaders. The truth is, if you make a change and nobody gets upset, you just changed something that doesn’t matter! If you are going to get unstuck and get going, change is non-negotiable.

A couple of great books that will be helpful for you:

  1. Leading Change, by John Kotter
  2. Managing Transitions – Making the most of change, by William Bridges

Make a plan for change, keep it simple, write it down and do it.

Establish several quick wins.

Quick wins may be connected to your larger big picture plan or may be separate. Either way, the key is to create momentum that helps your congregation believe that achieving vision is possible.

For example, let’s say you have 90 people attending your church on a regular basis, and evangelism is the core idea of your big picture “get un-stuck” plan. A quick win could be to create a plan for a special Sunday that would gather 10 visitors, maybe more, and you celebrate having over 100 people! Very doable!

You would not use that same kind of plan for your longer term, more in-depth strategy, but it’s great for a one Sunday “quick win”! It’s a great morale boost for your people. The begin to believe it’s possible to grow!

For a slightly different approach, let’s say we keep the same big picture strategy that in some way relates to evangelism, but rather than a quick win that is outreach oriented, do something connected to local compassion ministry. For example, you could do a food drive for a local food co-op. You could easily gather several hundred canned goods and other food supplies to feed the hungry and your congregation feels encouraged for pleasing God, helping people and being successful! All in one weekend!

Do one or two of these things a month as your bigger plan catches traction.

Never lose sight of God’s Kingdom plan.

Your big picture plan for change doesn’t need to be elaborate. In fact, it should be simple. You should be able to describe it with crystal clear clarity in a few sentences to anyone who asks.

Even more important, your strategy (plan) must always be easily and obviously connected to the Great Commission – God’s plan — found in Matthew 28:18-20. When these two remain integrated, (your plan and God’s plan), Psalm 37:4 (see point above), real power is found and it will come alive.You should be able to describe your plan for change in a few sentences to anyone who asks.Click & Tweet!

Now what?

Work the plan.

Nearly every failure that occurs in the local church is because the leaders gave up and quit working the plan, rather than the plan itself being flawed.

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.

Galatians 6:9-10


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