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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.

After growing up in a large metropolitan church, my wife and I pastored a small rural church for several years. We had been trained to know that God's plan for every church was to flourish, so we prayed diligently asking for the wisdom to lead our congregation.

While we experienced a measure of growth, larger congregations in our community seemed to be attracting more newcomers. Potential church attendees drove across the county to the "big church."

Desiring the growth that God promises in His Word, we attended church growth seminars that promoted excellent techniques intended to increase church attendance. We tried "user friendly" services, "Holy Ghost" services and "community outreach" services to grow our church.
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)
What I now realize is that while we sowed a lot of seed, we did not sow enough of the right seed—that seed which will produce the highest rate of return. Like so many pastors, we worked hard but failed to capitalize on our strengths. I have come to learn that while small churches are growing they have a unique strength—their size—which I mistook as a weakness.

Just The Right Size
When my son Matthew was five years old, I remember dropping a hand tool while fixing the tire on his bicycle. My large hands were too bulky to recover the crescent wrench, so I held him upside down by his waist while he slipped his hand into a crevice and easily grabbed it. A smaller fellowship can reach into places of ministry that a larger congregation cannot.

Our friends who pastor a rural church sometimes express 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," they say.

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 can be 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!

Mike Murdock teaches us that everything God has created is a solution to a problem. Jesus was a problem solver. Jesus had something other people needed. Successful churches are simply problem solvers! What your church does best is God's solution to somebody's problem!

Capitalize on Your Strengths
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.

Our church had an energy to reach children. Every year on Halloween we held the biggest and best party in town. We outgrew our church and had to rent the gymnasium at the National Guard Armory. Hundreds of kids were saved. This good seed produced a Hallelujah Harvest!

Be The Very Best at What You Do
"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).

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 ironic 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 further from the truth. "He will bless them that fear the LORD, both small and great" (Ps. 115:13).

My mom used to always tell me, "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.

Copyright © CFAITH All rights reserved.

Author Biography

Phil Winn
Web site: Living Word Christian Center
 
A lifelong Minnesotan, Phil graduated from North High in Minneapolis in 1963. At age 17, he enlisted in the National Guard and received his commission as an Army officer in 1966. After graduating from the University of Minnesota in 1970, he took a position a hospital representative for Novartis Pharmaceuticals. The same year he married his college sweetheart Annie Haviland.
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