The Church has always faced obstacles, challenges to its growth and development, whether the church is in the city or in the countryside. Many times the church stagnates in the same body, same routines, same songs, members pass on,… Anyway, it fossilizes and ends up disappearing. This problem is greater in the villages, which are smaller and more isolated than the big cities. And other times it is the church that has tried and cannot or does not want to grow. The Word of God never changes but cultural changes are always taking place.
Jesus said, “And upon this rock shall I build my church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18).
Every church faces obstacles in its growth and development. A common mistake is to believe that small-town churches resemble their urban counterparts. But that’s not always the case.
There are many books, as well as websites that talk about guides and tips for the expansion of the church, but how to grow a church in a small town? Here are 11 simple steps to help you create an environment where growth is possible and see concrete results.
Be humble and recognize that sheep are not yours. God uses us as a means to save people and be administrators of his flock, but it is not up to us to fill the benches. Salvation is from the Lord
(Psalm 3:8) and He is the one who adds to the church every day those who are to be saved (Acts 2:47).
The church is Christ’s. He is the head and we are his body (Ephesians 5:23), therefore the body does not tell the head what to do or say.
I raised, Apollos pray; but growth has been given by God. So neither he that plants are something, nor the one that waters, but God, who gives the growth (1 Corinthians 3:6-7).
And this will ultimately not work, it will only bring destruction among the parishioners. No method of modern or fashion marketing will bring repentant sinners to Christ.
If you want to grow your church, you must be the first to grow and develop. Your personal growth is not optional, it is a priority. The first person you should address is yourself because if you don’t follow up, do you think anyone else will?
Christ understood this fundamental principle when
Luke 2:52 says, “Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in grace for God and men.”
We see that their growth was oriented to 4 specific areas: intellectual, physical, spiritual and social. It’s always good when they offer you growth opportunities, but personal development is not the responsibility of the parish. It’s your own. If the leader of the church does not understand this, over time it becomes shallow and obsolete, and the church fades.
Personal growth is a daily struggle. Every pastor should focus on 4 essential areas: self-discipline; daily growth plan; tools and mentors to guide him.
But you be sober in everything, endure afflictions, do work as an evangelist, fulfill your ministry (2 Timothy 4:5).
The investment does not include just improving and expanding the physical temple. There are people sitting there who can do great things for the Body. It is enough to call them to serve and ask God to give them the opportunity to undertake.
It is necessary to prepare leaders committed to the Word of God and to ecclesial development. Their training should be aimed at understanding how the church is currently in and what they need to improve as leaders.
As I go, take care of reading, exhortation, and teaching (1 Timothy 4:13).
Young people should also receive attention and guidance to integrate into church service.
To both neophytes and those who already have time in the Church, make an effort to engage them in work teams that collaborate in the growth of the work. This will capture their attention and interest and make them share with others what God is doing in their lives.
Preach the word; you urge on time and out of time; reargue, rebuke, exhort with all patience and doctrine (2 Timothy 4:2).
A church without discipline is easily corrupted and its development stagnates. Christ instructs the Church to present itself as a glorious church, which has no stain or wrinkle or anything like it, but is holy and unspotted (Ephesians 5:27).
Discipline is essential in every church that wants to grow. I do not mean to follow etiquette behaviors, it is the obedience and alignment of our lives to the principles of the Word of God, starting with the pastoral team.
Ministries should be subject to this principle and be the light and glory of the Church for others.
There are many brothers outside who do not enter the church because they observe or hear the things that are done within it.
If we want to attract others, we must reflect Christ in our lives.
Therefore, we too, taking around our great cloud of witnesses, let us strip ourselves of all weight and sin that base us, and patiently run the race before us (Hebrews 12:1).
Indiscipline leads to anarchy, rebellion and disunity between brothers.
Paul understood this principle very well when he addressed every church of antiquity. We even know his view of how to react to the brethren who walk according to the flesh (1 Corinthians 5). It is an example of a discipline that must guide us. Parishioners should be clear that the Church is the home of God, which is the inspiration of the Holy Spirit to the Gentiles and motivates those who need to seek from God to enter it.
But fornication and all filth, or greed, is not even named among you, as it is for saints (Ephesians 5:2).
Evangelization is crucial for growth. To grow, you have to talk about Christ to others.
but to make the unconverted to the denomination, repent of their sin, and integrate to serve in the Church.
Go all over the world and preach the gospel to every creature (Mark 16:15).
Dr. MacArthur states in an article “A church that evangelizes 365 days a year is better than a church that has a week of evangelization meetings once a year” (Exhibitor. September 2019, page 16).
I have seen many Churches Struggling to survive, declining because they have lost focus on the Great Commission. Their Focus has switched inward, so the process of helping people entangled in the world, to see the light and become a growing Child of God. As Time goes on the congregation gets older, members go on to be with the father. Smaller and Smaller the Body at that Location Becomes.
Many times we can evangelize in the ward, our neighborhoods, preaching from house to house, or inviting neighbors and acquaintances to Bible study meetings; disseminate Christian messages through social media or even, inviting our work colleagues when there are church events or activities.
According to the glorious gospel of the Blessed God, which has been entrusted to me (1 Timothy 1:11).
Leaders should organize activities to capture the attention of people in the community and prepare faithful who evangelize all who come. A good course of evangelization will help the people of the church understand what they have to do and say in these situations.
Every Church that wants to grow and develop must be clear about where it is going, which is what it has to do and why it does. Many churches begin without having these clear questions, and in many cases, without a convincing answer to their believers.
Your church needs to develop a mission and vision that helps the faithful have a broader picture of the role of their church. Keep them focused on the same path and feel like brothers.
I continue to the goal, to the prize of God’s supreme calling in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:14).
The mission answers the question of who we are and why we are here. It gives cohesion and unity to the church body: a sense of belonging. The vision gives way to what you’re going to do and how you’re going to do it. It is the ultimate goal to follow and fulfill for the whole congregation, from which derive the fundamental values and specific goals that will fuel the motivation of your faithful.
But in that which we have come, let us follow the same rule, let us feel the same thing (Philippians 3:16).
This point is difficult especially when we don’t have enough volunteers to do all the work or for a lack of budget. Many small churches almost always have few ministries or lack of space because of this.
Sometimes it is necessary to make small sacrifices intended for development, not to beautify or pay mega salaries to pastoral equipment or sickly luxuries as in certain parishes.
Organize fundraising activities to invest in weakened services or develop new ministries focused on growth and aligned with the Word of God, and the Spiritual Gifts he has endowed the Local Church Body.
As the church grows, we need to integrate more people and train them well enough to develop new projects. Let us not fall into the mistake of paying the brothers for the service provided.
First of all, it is a work of building up the Church, which is given and received for free, not a company or corporation from which I hope to receive something.
You received grace, give of grace (Matthew 10:8).
The community around the Church must be the primary goal to achieve.
They excuse themselves in their own needs or in keeping their holiness so as not to leave the comfort of their building. If we are insensitive to the problems of our people, how do we intend to reach our brothers and neighbors?
For if any man does not provide for his own, and mostly for those in his house, he has denied the faith, and is worse than a disbeliever (1 Timothy 5:8).
If we want to grow, we need to be present and help with the needs that are in the community. There are congregations that do not have prison ministries, for the sick, for the homeless, for widows and the elderly. We can well take advantage of these places and these people to bring them the Word and thus expand our denomination.
And if a brother or sister is naked, and they need the maintenance of every day, and one of you says to them, Go in peace, warm-up, and be satisfied, but do not give them the things that are necessary for the body, what do you take advantage of? (James 2:15-16).
If we are near a hospital, we can organize a special day and go pray for the sick. If there is a school nearby, we can support with materials they need or request permission to speak of Christ to the youth. But make it a weekly commitment, not once a year or when we have free time. We can go visit prisoners, nursing homes, homeless shelters, and sponsor them as brothers in Christ, not keep them indefinitely and foster laziness.
In these times of crisis, the Church needs to be the hands and feet of Jesus for others and demonstrate it in everything we do. As the son of Man came not to be served, but to serve. (Matthew 20:28).
We can have many ideas, plans, projects, but if we do not stand firm and consistent in prayer, and do not make God the center of the Church, nothing we do will have a good end. Today, many churches tend to grow and develop using modern methods of music, marketing, fashion… seeks how to attract young people’s attention through easy and simple Christianity.
Praying and fasting have become easy, and there are even churches that don’t dare evangelize and fast for fear of losing the faithful. Persevere in prayer, watching over it with thanksgiving (Colossians 4:2).
Whenever you do or start something new, don’t forget to pray to the Holy Ghost and ask for guidance for what you’re going to do. Pray for new members, for the events to be performed, for each service, for each member of the pastoral team… But let it not be a superficial prayer, 5 minutes or because I have to do this, or declaring impossible things. Be reasonable before praying and humble as you pray. Recognize that you cannot do it alone and that you need God’s help to continue.
Prayer is the weapon that will give us success in everything we plan.
Praying at all times, prayerfully and pleading in the Spirit, and watching over it with all perseverance and pleading for all the saints (Ephesians 6:18).
An essential issue in growth is the process. We know that God is the one who gives the growth, just as he adds to the church those who are to be saved. But as in testing, each church faces its own process of growth and expansion. There are churches that quickly become mega stadiums and others that go decades without growth.
Let us not tire, then, of doing well; for in time we will now, if we do not faint (Galatians 6:9).
The measures you take will not yield results overnight. It takes time and patience. It’s all part of a process. Many pastors and faithful are discouraged in a matter of weeks or months when they do not look at the expected or even negative results. Don’t be discouraged.
For the sorrow that is according to God produces repentance for salvation. (2 Corinthians 7:10).
Part of the process is to endure the trials God sends to purify his Church and take it to a new level. In others, it will face opposition from the devil and the people, who do not want the church to grow. The discouragement will contrite his heart and incapacitate him to continue in the work and guide the faithful through this process.
To whom resist firm faith, knowing that the same sufferings are fulfilled in your brethren throughout the world (1 Peter 5:8).
Any growth leads to a process. It is always important to give our best when we want to expand ecclesial work. I’m not talking about working like a slave for 23 hours a day, or exhausting yourself to death, for even if we do if it’s not in a good way, it won’t do much good.
The secret is to give 10% every day, every day. And improve those aspects of my life that are an obstacle not only to my growth but also to that of the congregation. There are many churches that have been able to take advantage of this strategy, and often without spending more than they have budgeted for.
And the Lord goes before thee; He will be with you, he will not leave you, nor forsake you; fear not or intimidate you (Deuteronomy 31:8).
They constantly hold an additional meeting, even after a day exhausted, they drill 1 more level, devote 1 more level to creativity, 1 cycle of worship and feedback more… Anyway, they live going beyond what others, on average, don’t want to give.
Look, I command you to strive and be brave; Fear not or faint, for the Lord thy God, shall be with thee wherever you go (Joshua 1:9).
We have seen that churches in small towns face many challenges, many of which prevent them from growing and expanding. They cannot be compared to urban churches, which have more facilities and resources.
There are many ways to grow and expand a church, even though it is located in a small town. But the most important thing of all is to always have the support of God and not to faint, because every growth has its process, which is different between one and the other church. If we do not overcome the obstacles we face and conform to the Word of God, the methods will not do much good.