Home » Equipping » Small Church Equipping Values

Small Church Equipping Values

big-or-smallHow do equipping values differ between the large church and the small church? They don’t; there is no difference! The values are the same:

  • Prayer–Developing an equipping culture requires Holy Spirit power. The path to that power is through prayer.
  • Vision of the church as contained in Ephesians 4–The role of the leadership is to equip the people for the ministry of the Church.
  • Servant leadership–The leaders and the laity are partners in ministry. Leaders set the example by serving others.
  • Team ministry–No one does ministry alone.
  • Intentionality–Equipping doesn’t happen on its own. It requires intentional preaching, teaching, discovery, and connecting people to meaningful serving opportunities
  • Proactive towards change–Change is inevitable; resistance is futile! Learn to evaluate and respond to change as it comes.

The values may be lived out differently in the smaller church, however, because the challenges are different. For example, smaller churches are often more inclined to view the pastor as the one who performs all the ministry of the church. Their reasoning may be that the church is small so there’s not that much to do. But that completely misses the point in 1 Corinthians 12 that every member of the body has a function and a role, as well as the pesky mandate in Ephesians 4 that the pastor is to equip the people to do the ministry!

Another common scenario in the small church is the person who has served in a particular ministry for so long that she and the ministry have become synonymous. So whereas the small church may only need one adult Sunday school teacher for their one adult class, there may be others with teaching gifts to be employed as well. Creating a teaching team–even if it’s only two–says that shared ministry is valued.

In larger churches, there is usually a variety of classes and programs offered. Keeping those classes and programs running smoothly requires many volunteers. On the other hand, the smaller church doesn’t offer such a wide variety because they don’t have the multitude of people wanting or needing it. So it may be tempting to “fill the slots,” get the ministry essentials covered with a few willing volunteers, and let the rest of the people off the serving hook. It requires a different kind of intentionality in the small church to connect people with ministry because it becomes necessary to look outside the walls of the church for places and ways to connect your people to serving opportunities. And that means it is all the more necessary to preach and teach about following the example of Jesus as servant because serving outside the walls of the church can be less convenient than serving inside the walls!

The values are the same no matter the size of the church; it’s the way those values are recognized and executed that is different. The challenge for the equipping leader in the small church, then, is to adopt the equipping values which apply to all churches, but adapt the processes that are designed for a large church to something more applicable in the small church context.

Are you an equippingleader in a small church? How have you adapted “big church” methods to fit your church? I invite you to share what has worked…or what hasn’t!


4 thoughts on “Small Church Equipping Values

  1. I am beginning in a small church setting with ZERO equipping strategies only a fill the slot strategy. I am interested to follow and see what some have done to build an equipping culture in small churches

    • Feel free to contact me, Jon, if I can help! You have a good foundation in equipping. The trick is to adapt what you have learned to fit a much smaller scale!

  2. The thing that was crucial for us and is not written about in the books is the need to not only get the pastor buy-in but also the key leaders/culture creators buy-in. They can make it sink or swim. There is creating the culture but in that is getting the buy-in so it’s not just the pet project of whatever group of leaders. There needs to be wide coverage of who supports and gets involved and benefits from this ministry shift. The more that share in the “successful” culture shift and slowly start to reflect the cultures of an equipping culture the stronger and longer lasting it will be.

    The other thing I had to let go was where the ministry involvement came in. The outward focus is so important to build into the recognized ministries of the church. The church can not have a felt presence in the world if we hog all the gifts in the church. If churches can find a way to recognize and equip people for ministry in our outside the church the better.

    Related to that, when the church does take on starting a new ministry allowing that to naturally bubble up from the passions and interests and experiences from within the body instead of what others think we should be doing so we are attractive will create a more passionate and committed and supported ministry.

    • Thank you, Rachel, for your comment. I think you are spot-on about making sure that the focus of new ministry outside the church be what has arisen from the interest within the congregation. The trend to be “externally focused” over the past several years has led some churches to jump on the bandwagon and commit to any community service with which they could connect. The volunteers may have been passionate about the idea of serving in the community, but not passionate about the project/cause that was chosen. When church leaders consider the spiritual gifts, abilities, and experiences represented in their congregation, they can then match their church to a community need that will result in building a lasting relationship, rather than a temporary fix.

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