Can a small church be effective?  Can it transform its community?  How can a struggling church become a “transformational” small church?

Ed Stetzer, chief missiologist and researcher at Lifeway, is hosting a free webcast on the topic on Sept 7, from 10-4 Central.  If you can get to Nashville, it’s just $10.  If you can’t you can watch on free webcast.

And if you’re near Newport News, Virginia, you can watch the webcast and network with other local small churches.  It’s being hosted by Deer Park Baptist Church, 10:20am-5:15pm (eastern).  See the details at Netcasting:Ideas

I had occasion to use the space of a large church in the area.  It was tedious, to the point of pain.  The bureaucracy added way too much stress on the ministry team and hindered the spread of the Good News.

The startup congregation I’m working with heard that a noted singer in our denomination was to be in the area, and had a few days between performances.  Although we only had 10 weeks to put it together, we decided to try.  But getting a room on a Tuesday night in August was harder than it appeared at first glance.

We normally meet in a church of 2800.  But the adminstration of that size congregation means multiple layers of approvals, some of whom were out of town during key meetings, meaning a delay in channeling the room request to senior leadership.  (A number of other venues we tried either wanted a $400 fee for 4 hours or would not consider us using their space at all.)

At barely one month out, we secured a room, but just as publicity was going out (the minimum lead time for advertising is usually 4 weeks), the host church decided they didn’t want their name on anything that hadn’t gone through the in-house graphic designer.  That approval came out less than a week prior to the concert, changing the background picture and a slight change to the wording.

If we had had our own space, our congregation of 50 could have decided in early June, advertised in July and probably exceeded the 70 that came.

Leaders of small churches can usually meet  more spontaneously, make decisions with less coordination, and respond to needs much more quickly.

Large churches have more resources.  (We wanted a room to hold more than 100 and parking for 50, something not available to a house church!)  They can mobilize for special events.  But small churches can see and respond to needs more quickly.

And ministry is measured in speed to action, not intention to convene a committee.

Many small churches struggle with money. For some, there aren’t enough congregants with enough income to pay all the bills and the maintenance upgrades – even if everyone tithed the full 10%. For the rest, the members often struggle with finances at home and are limited in what they can contribute.  Studies show most want to give more, but can’t.

The challenge for leaders is to teach their congregation about the spiritual nature of giving, about getting their spirit in order first, then adjusting  their lifestyle to match the spirit, and finally finding the freedom to give from “enough” God has given them.

Steve Sappington was a college classmate of mine, and has used his farming background to come to grips with this problem.    He has written a new book, Today’s WORD on Money, to help people understand what the Bible says about their finances.  It’s a 40-day workbook, suitable for private or group study.

Alan Ross, CEO of Kingdom Companies says:

In the midst of tremendous financial uncertainty, the most certain thing we have is our faith that the Father is for us so who can be against us. The 40 day challenge that Steve has laid out for us may well be the best use of our time, our energy and our focus. These meditations will not change our circumstances, but they will change us; in a way that may well change the financial circumstances affecting our lives. Steve has presented us with the word of God in a powerful and challenging way. Read it for 40 days and be blessed.

Read more about this resource at Steve’s website,