One year my wife was part of a large choir that performed Handel’s Messiah as the church’s Christmas outreach program. The worship leader in that large church used the slogan “Everyone should perform the Messiah at least once in their lifetime” to get people to sign up.
I visited another church that put on a live production at Easter that included a scene that dramatized the death of Jesus. I can still see the cross being raised with Jesus on it and then being dropped into place. The thud as the cross fell into the wooden stand still sends shivers up my spine when I think about it.
Another church hired musicians from the symphany orchestra in their city to augment their own musicians on a Sunday when they wanted the music to be particularly good.
Know your limits
Small churches don’t do those sorts of things. Actually they can’t do those sorts of things. As much as they might like to put on a large production at Christmas or Easter, their budgets soon brings them back to reality.
Every small church knows what it is to work with limited resources.
If I were teaching a course on leadership in small churches, one of the lessons would be entitled “Know Your Limits and Work Within Them!”
You can’t run a day camp that requires forty workers if there are only thirty people in your church.
You can’t plan an outreach program that will cost fifty thousand dollars if your whole budget for the year is sixty thousand.
You can’t perform Handel’s Messiah if you only have seven people in your choir.
Part of being a small church is that there are things that you just can’t do. You need to know your limits and work within them.
Working creatively within those limits
Any church that doesn’t pay attention to the previous section will find themselves in trouble sooner or later. There are limits and we ignore those limits at our own peril.
Having said that though, it is possible to work creatively within those limits. I always get excited when I see churches doing things that they probably shouldn’t have been able to do but by being creative they were able to expand their limits.
The vision statement for Karl Vater’s New Small Church website is “Encouraging, Connecting & Equipping Innovative Small Church Leaders.” I love that their ministry is primarily to Inovative small-church leaders.
If you want to be challenged to become even more innovative look at some of the blog entries that appear under the title of Innovation on Karl’s website.
One of the greatest gifts that God can give to any church is a group of creative people. I would challenge you to identify those people in your church and then encourage them to come up with new ideas.
I can almost hear some of you reacting to my last statement. It was someone’s creative idea that almost got you fired and now I am wanting you to turn that person loose to create more trouble.
You have to be careful in how you introduce creative ideas but please, don’t shut your doors completely to doing something innovative.
In fact Karl Vaters suggests that we should always be changing something in our churches. He states that to refuse to change is to die.
Take a chance. Do something creative.
Share you stories
I would love to hear your stories of some of the creative things that you have done in your small-church setting. If you have done something that has worked, tell me about it in the comments section.
If I think that your story might be helpful to others, I would love to talk with you and share your story in a future blog entry.
I would love to see this blog become an avenue for you to connect with other small churches. This is one way in which you can make that happen.