Monday, July 06, 2015

Transitioning a Small Church

I’ve been called to pastor a small, declining and aging church. I’m excited about the opportunity but not sure what to do—or where to start. I desperately want to lead this church to become a healthy and growing spiritual community. I could use some encouragement and counsel.

I can definitely relate to your thinking, especially the part about desiring encouragement. Though I’ve been the senior pastor of NorthRidge Church for the past 25 years, it is the fourth church where I’ve held that responsibility. In each of those churches, I was inheriting a declining and aging church. The first two were small in attendance—18 and 60, respectively. The second two were a little larger—275 and 1000.

Here’s my encouragement: During my season of ministry in each church, we ultimately began reaching people and growing. As I’ve previously written in this column, my ministry at the first church didn’t end well. I made the mistake of doing leadership to the people rather than leading them. Though it worked for a short time, it ultimately blew up. It wasn’t a happy ending. The second two churches fared much better during the season of my pastoral ministry and the season that followed. As for NorthRidge, though we’re far from a perfect ministry, the health, growth and impact over the years has been staggering.

I have come to realize that in each ministry the same principles of leadership were necessary for transitioning to health, growth and effectiveness. Keep reading

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