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God's mandate to the Body of Christ is to maximize its impact on the world. The vision of every local church should be to exert Godly influence on the communities in which they minister. One of the most important tools that pastors and church leaders need is the knowledge of what steps the Holy Spirit wants taken in order for the church to grow.

A young pastor and his wife after growing up in a large metropolitan church, pastored a small rural church for several years. They had been trained to know that God's plan for every church was to flourish, so they prayed diligently asking for the wisdom to lead their congregation.

While they experienced a measure of growth, larger congregations in their community seemed to be attracting more newcomers. Potential church attenders drove across the county to the "mega church."

Desiring the growth that God promises in His Word, they attended church growth seminars that promoted excellent techniques intended to increase church attendance, giving and lay ministry involvement. They tried "user friendly" services, "Holy Ghost" services and "community outreach" services to grow their church to little avail.

"Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field..." (Matt. 13 24).

While they sowed a lot of seed, they did not sow enough good seed. Good seed is that which will produce the highest rate of return. Like so many pastors, they worked hard but failed to capitalize on their strengths. While small churches are growing they have a unique strength, size, that is often mistaken as a weakness.

Recently we were having dinner with friends who pastor a rural church. They expressed disappointment at being unable to compete with the wide range of ministry services offered by their larger city cousins. "It is discouraging when people who live in our community drive past our fellowship to attend the big church."

If numbers are our only measure of success we can sometimes lose sight of the strengths of a small church that is "small enough to know you."

Allow me to suggest several considerations that will capitalize on your size while you are believing God for growth:

"But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.... Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual" (1 Cor. 2:9-10,13).

Get God's heart for your church
God's general will is found in the Word. God's specific will for us individually is revealed by the Holy Spirit through prayer. Once you have prayed through to God's purpose for your church (not someone else's) you are ready to begin sowing good seed.

How do I know what God's purpose is for my church? Your purpose is found in what you do well. Find out what your church does best and do it better than anybody else!

Capitalize on your strengths
Everything God has created is a solution to a problem. Successful churches are simply problem solvers! Jesus was a problem solver. Jesus had something other people needed. What your church does best is God's solution to somebody's problem!

Does your church have a heart for missions? Are there poor who would benefit from a food shelf? Are interpersonal relationships your church's strong suit? Does your gifting include teaching or counseling skills? Build the ministry around it. Think of your church's contribution to your community as an assignment that will enable others to inherit God's promises.

"Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain" (1 Cor. 9:24).

Be the very best at what you do
Develop a passion for God's plan for your church. Passion is strong devotion to a concept or an ideal that evokes an intense emotion which causes us to take certain actions. Passion is the "fire in your belly" that drives you to see your city saved, healed and delivered.

Learn everything you can about leading a growing church. Read books. Listen to tapes. Hang around pastors who have grown their churches from where you are to where you want to be. Remember: You must grow before your church can grow.

Believe that you are making a difference. Trust in the anointing that God has invested in your office. Hold fast to your profession and trust God to bring the good seed to harvest.

Use size to your advantage
As contrary as it may seem, large churches must develop ministries that make their church seem smaller! Your size gives you the ability to touch people's lives in a unique way.

While it is God's will that every church grow as big as it possibly can, society has sold us on the mistaken concept that bigger is always better. As a result, people perceive a bigger God at a bigger church. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

"He will bless them that fear the Lord, both small and great" (Ps. 115:3).

"Make hay while the sun shines." Find out what your church is good at and use your strengths to influence your community. You will be sowing good seed that will produce an abundant harvest.

Author Biography

Buddy Harrison
Web site:
 
Buddy Harrison and his wife, Pat, were co-founders of Faith Christian Fellowship International Church. He served as president of the organization from 1978 until he went home to be with the Lord on November 28, 1998.
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