I have studied “BIG” church for years. Since the majority of my ministry has been in smaller churches, I see the discouragement of the smaller congregational leaders striving to make sense of “everything big is better” in our society. I want to give some suggestions that small church attenders and leaders can apply.
1) Let God Set The Atmosphere Through You. The vast majority of megachurches came about because their pastors had a passion and a vision for reaching the unchurched. They were able to communicate this vision to a group of people who embraced it and joined the pastor in a commitment to share the Gospel with their friends and neighbors. It is up to God to set the atmosphere of the mission of the church, as well as the services. Again, let God do it, always remembering that power is to flow through you instead of coming from you.
2) Work Your Area of Strengths. Come to an awareness of exactly what God is calling your church to be and do in your context. This requires spiritual seeking through prayer on the part of the pastor and church leaders. It also involves knowing the needs and cultural characteristics of the persons you are called to reach. You must speak the Gospel in their language. This may mean embracing the use of electric guitars, drums and keyboards, or it could mean hiring a pastor of another race, or starting another service on Sunday evening for young adults.
3) Everybody Is An Evangelist. The entire congregation, every person—not just the leadership—is commissioned to go and make disciples of all nations. It is clear from our research that megachurches operate more evangelistic programs than smaller churches do. Even more important, their membership is involved in evangelism to a greater extent. It is also true that the fastest-growing megachurches have the largest percentages of their members engaged in outreach activities.
4) Be Intent With Guests. Most visitors want to slip in anonymously and experience worship in a user-friendly manner. I cannot stand to see church “greeters” lazily sitting in the foyer and guests have no clue where to go, where to sit, or what to do. Guess what? They don’t come back. Don’t leave newcomers at the “spectator stage.” Christianity is about maturing in the faith. The goal of pastors and teachers is to help the body of Christ “become mature.” Many megachurches provide intentional paths for new persons to move into deeper levels of the faith.
5) Preach And Teach Everyday Faith. Megachurch leaders place high priority on worship as central to the life of the church. Their worship services are overwhelmingly described as joyful, inspirational, thought-provoking, exciting, informal, reverent and constantly evolving. But if church is only Sunday morning entertainment, it isn’t any better than a Friday evening movie. Preach and demonstrate a faith that is practiced daily in everyday ways.
6) Participators Needed, Not Members. Active participation matters. If your members don’t attend and aren’t active in the life of the church, sooner or later they’ll fall away. Megachurches create intentional ways to integrate new persons into the active life of the church. This means more than just new members classes. Show them how committed Christians serve God and the church and encourage them to do likewise. The sooner new people become involved in ministry, the more likely they are to stay and participate.
7) Intermingle People. It is well-known that megachurches intentionally use small fellowship groups to create intimacy and connections. No church, however, should take the creation of interpersonal relationships for granted. It will not happen naturally. Think about turning all your groups into cell groups. Any grouping of volunteers, hobbyists or committee members can be a small group and strengthen both members’ spiritual lives and enhance the social fabric of the congregation. Regardless of their primary intent, these regular gatherings should model a fellowship group and incorporate prayer, Scripture study and support of personal concerns. Think of this as strengthening the spiritual fabric that holds the church together.
8) Keep Services Fresh With Excellence And Planning. Very few churches will be able to orchestrate worship or put on pageants comparable to the megachurches. However, every size church can start on time, have greeters and ushers who undertake their duties professionally, make sure their bathrooms are clean, and ensure the landscaping is well-groomed. Appearance and attitudes matter to someone attending for the first time. View your church as you would your home when you prepare to entertain guests. After all, God asks for our best and so do those you want to reach out to—whatever “best” means for your church.
9) Help Others Find Their Life’s Calling. No megachurch pastor ever created a megachurch alone. God was the primary active partner, but it also required the commitment and spiritual labor of the entire congregation. All Christians are called to serve God through their own unique talents and gifts. Megachurches encourage their members to recognize what God is calling each of them to do, and then empower them to use these gifts and offer them space in which to do it. These churches have a great capacity for sharing the load of a mega-ministry among hundreds, even thousands, of volunteers. By providing a place for individuals to express their calling to serve God, the megachurch helps to mature the faith of their people while expanding the scope of the church’s ministry to the world.
10) Find A Need And Fill It. The first place you are called to serve is your own town. Take a drive around town, look at physical needs, then pick a few streets and adopt them for six months. Plan out how to meet the needs of that area. Then, get to know the people that you will serve for that time period. No strings attached, your serving a few streets at a time will not task your members and provide a great way for the church to reveal an authentic faith to a lost world.