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Most Churches are Small, BTW.

 —  July 1, 2013 — 2 Comments

Most Churches are Small, BTW.

Unless you’ve been in one of my training sessions, you may not know this: 90% of churches in America have 300 members or less. That’s shrinking churchmembership, not Sunday worship average which would make that number significantly lower. You’ve heard me say a gazillion times that the average size membership in America is 76 people.

So the point? Most churches were already small-ish and with the “hemorrhaging” (their word, not mine) happening in membership across most mainline denoms, size numbers are getting nothing but smaller. What were formerly considered “medium-size” churches have moved into the top-end of the small category.

Put away your “doom and gloom” faces. This isn’t a bad thing; it just is. In my travels for Ministry Architects (and its Small Church Ministry Architects division), I’m encountering loads of successful small church ministries. I also see a lot of floundering small churches. The difference? Here are a few commonalities among churches doing youth ministry successfully:

1)    Successful Small Churches recognize who they are and joyfully move ahead. My best example is Sugar Creek Presbyterian, Kettering, OH. They do great things with what they have and have created a wonderfully inviting children’s and youth ministry by making it “family.”

2)    Successful Small Churches stick to doing fewer things really well rather than trying to be all things to all people. My best example is in the area of post-high school ministry. Most small churches can’t pull it off so don’t try. Find some larger churches doing great stuff in this area on other days of the week and give your college/young adults permission to attend.

3)    Successful Small Churches still raise the bar to excellent in doing their youth ministry programming. Being small isn’t an excuse to let ho-hum programming acceptable. Creativity is everywhere and so are technology friendly people.

4)    Successful Small Churches have a good attitude. No, they have a great one! They’re willing to take risks, they don’t moan and groan about their size, and they’re willing to try something new.

Really, small church ministry will become more and more the norm and resources for ways to live out church will be needed. Let’s make the most of it, friends.


Stephanie Caro

Stephanie Caro

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Stephanie Caro has been involved in ministry to youth and youth workers in the local church since…well, a long time – 30+ years. Her humorous, straightforward style keeps her busy presenting and coaching at conferences, training events, camps, mission trips, retreats, churches, etc. Her latest books are, “Thriving Youth Ministry in Smaller Churches” and “99 Thoughts for the Smaller Church Youth Worker,” published by Group/Simply Youth Ministry. Stephanie is a contributing author to several youth ministry resources in addition to her regular column “Smaller Church Youth Ministry” in Group Magazine. Stephanie is Senior Consultant for Mark DeVries’ Ministry Architects and the director for their Small Church Ministry Architects division. She and her hubby, Steve, live in Houston, TX. All 7 kids are grown and out – praise God!

2 responses to Most Churches are Small, BTW.

  1. Wow!! The church in that photos is my church… Walton Memorial United, in Oakville, Ontario!! Not sure when the photo was taken (there is no photo credit listed). I’ve been reading this site for a while now but that’s very cool to see it there. My husband and I are the Senior Youth Group Coordinators.

  2. Great post! I couldn’t have said it better. (And I’ve tried).

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