Making Disciples in the Smaller Church


I was recently reading an article that came from The Billy Graham Center, LifeWay Research, the Caskey Center for Church Excellence.  The article shared the findings of a study about growth in small churches (attendance up to 250).  1,500 small churches in 11 denominations were surveyed, and the study found that in growing small churches the pastor played a significant role in making new Christian disciples.

Here are some of the findings of this study:

1 — The pastor blocks out time for the purpose of sharing the gospel with non-Christians. If the pastor is to lead evangelism in the church, the pastor must first personally live out the evangelism call.  These pastors more often attends a classes or conferences to learn personal evangelism skills. If the pastor is a learner and stays inspired and growing in the area of evangelism, that pastor’s church will reach more people who commit to Christ and who stick. 

2 — The church regularly engages in ministry outside the church in order to share the gospel with the unreached people.  The churches that make new disciples and grow through conversion also tend to be the churches that are making a difference in their communities!

3 — The pastor more regularly receives feedback indicating a strength in communicating with unchurched people in the weekly worship services. This factor does not mean the services are for unchurched people, but only that pastors translate what is going on and what they are teaching for unchurched people so that they feel included.

4 — The pastor hears more regular reports that the people in the church are reaching out and sharing their faith. The church does not need superstar pastors who share their faith while everybody in the church cheers them on from the sidelines. The more important factor is that the people catch the contagion that the pastor models!

5 — A higher percentage of the church budget is given for evangelism and mission. These churches put their money where their mouth is… and it shows up in reaching unchurched people who commit to Christ and their church.

6 — The pastor more frequently asks people to commit after sharing the gospel. The ability and practice of “popping the question” and making an invitation predicts that more people will commit to Christ and more people will stick.

7 —  The pastor more often offers a class for new attenders. Whether that class is intentionally evangelistic, or more oriented on helping people better understand the church, having clearly deniniated next steps predicts people will come to Christ more often and grow in their discipleship.

8 —  These churches are places of invitation, hospitality, welcome, and involvement for the unchurched.  So, those who were previously unreached stick around, come to Christ and engage in a life of discipleship.

Questions for Reflection:

Pastors, what parts of this most resonated for you?

How are you personally engaged in Making Disicples for Jesus Christ?

What can you take away from this study to enhance your small church ministry?


by Rick Kirchoff, Clergy Coaching Network

The link to the article is here:


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