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:


It’s Hard to Get Yourself Unstuck


Churches and pastors can get stuck! And when it happens, it’s hard to get unstuck on your own.

There are any number of reasons that churches get stuck.  In our work with pastors and congregations we’ve found that it happens for any number of reasons:

The church is unclear about its mission.

There is no vision for the future.

The church has become inwardly focused and preference-driven.

The church refuses to reach out to the community.

The pastor and the church leaders play the blame game.

The Great Commission has become the Great Omission.

The church worships their past successes.

The church obsesses over its facilities.

You and the church are focused on activities instead of outcomes.

You have not equipped God’s people to do the work of ministry.

How about you and your church? Do one or more of these statements apply to you and your congregation? If so, you just might be stuck.

It’s hard to get unstuck when you try to do it alone.  If you or your church are having difficulty, let a Clergy Coaching Network coach help you and your church get find a new future. You can apply for coaching at

Or, if you want to learn more about us, our web site is

Never Moderately Important

Rick Kirchoff, Clergy Coaching Network

Close up view of golf ball on tee on golf course

Those of you who are golfers may remember Gary Player, who, in his day, was one of the best in the world.  Over his career, he accumulated nine major championships on the regular tour and six Champions Tour major championship victories, as well as three Senior British Open Championships on the European Senior Tour.

When Gary Player was competing, people would constantly come up to him and say, “Gary, I’d give anything to be able to hit a ball like you!” And Gary would usually nod and smile.

But one day, things hadn’t gone well in a tournament. He was frustrated. And he was tired.

And somebody said, “Gary, I’d give anything to hit a ball like you.”

Gary lost his usual tact and politeness  He said, “No, you wouldn’t! You would like to hit a ball like me if it was easy to do it. But it’s not easy. What you’ve got to do to hit a ball like me is get up at 5:00 in the morning and go out to the range and hit 1,000 balls. Your hand starts to bleed, and you go into the clubhouse and you wash off the blood and you slap on a bandage and you go out and you hit 1,000 more balls. And you do that day after day, week after week. That’s what it takes to hit a ball like me.”

The truth is, nothing great ever happens without practice and training and sacrifice and dedication. And the same is true in the spiritual life.

C. S. Lewis said something that is so profound, and yet, so simple: “The only thing that Christianity cannot be for you and me is moderately important.”


To learn more about Clergy Coaching Network, go to


The Angel Oak and You

Rick Kirchoff, a Clergy Coaching Network Coach

Large southern live oak (Quercus virginiana) near Charleston, South Carolina

On John’s Island, near Charleston, South Carolina, there is a live oak that is 400-500 years old. Some even think the tree could be as much as 1,500 years old.  It is called the “Angel Oak.” It is 65 feet high, has a diameter of 160 feet and covers 17,000 square feet.

The Angel Oak has survived countless challenging events: hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, lightning strikes, damage and human interference. It was severely damaged by Hurricane Hugo, but it has recovered.

One thing you can’t see in the picture is that there are a number of metal poles, steel cables and support braces that are in place to help this tree grow and to keep it from getting so big and heavy that it brings itself down.

Building a strong spiritual life and being sustained in ministry, requires support as well.   We all need people who will encourage us, lift us up and support us in growing into all that we can be.

Who are the people who provide support and encouragement to you?

We hope that you are surrounded by loving friends and trusted colleagues who help you be healthy, resilient and hope-filled.

Finding a coach may be one of the best gifts you can give yourself in strengthening your ministry.

At Clergy Coaching Network we partner with pastors and congregational leadership teams in a thought-provoking and creative process designed to inspire them to maximize their ministry and fulfill their mission in the world.

If you’d like to know more, reach out to us by clicking on the contact tab.  Or you can go to our website:

Eight Traps That Can Derail a Ministry in the First 90 Days

Rev. Dr. Teresa Angle-Young


Starting a new ministry appointment? Coupled with the excitement of a move to a new church, there is often some anxiety. How do you start off on the right foot, and ensure the best possible outcome of ministry success? Following are eight traps that can derail a pastor in the crucial first 90 days in a new role:

  1. Failure to clarify expectations. While the formal job description lists expectations, there are also informal expectations that aren’t put on paper. Be sure that you know what your leadership really expects from you. Often churches are guilty of not even having a job description for a pastor, so be sure you nail down the expectations for what the church will see as success.
  2. Failure to understand your new District Superintendent (if you are United Methodist) or other judicatory and his (or her) style and needs. The first 90 days is the time to build a strong relationship with your new DS, Staff Parish Relations Team, Vestry, etc. What makes them excited? What irritates them? How can you best adapt to their communication and decision-making style?
  3. Not building credibility and trust with staff and key lay leaders. Each person is different. The first 90 days is an important time to assess your team and set strategies to engage both paid employees and volunteers.
  4. Being perceived as eccentric. Take time to learn the culture and fit in. Of course, you want to be YOU, your authentic self, but each church has a culture, and you do not want to be seen as an ill-fit.
  5. Aligning with the right players. The first 90 days gives you the opportunity to understand the informal power structure in the church. Who has insider information? Who can best help you navigate the sometimes tricky waters in a new assignment?
  6. Step on political landmines. Unless you are specifically expected to go after sacred cows in the church, tread wisely during your first 90 days. This is a time to observe, gather information, and understand the existing structure.
  7. Taking abrupt action without taking the time to learn. Give yourself enough time to observe and understand why things are the way they are.
  8. Failure to continue to develop. As Marshall Goldsmith’s book title says, “What got you here won’t get you there.” During your transition period, be humble enough to identify new skills you may need, knowledge you may have to acquire, and relationships that will help you continue to progress in your ministry.

To learn more about making effective transitions, contact us, and be sure to use our free “Ministry Success Assessment” tool by clicking here.

Beginnings — A Clergy Coaching Blog

quotes-Clergy-Coaching-NetwWelcome to the Clergy Coaching Network Community

Our goal on this blog is to share resources, to encourage discussion about key issues impacting clergy and congregations, and to equip clergy and church leaders for transformational leadership in the congregation.

In addition, we hope that many of you will consider employing one of our excellent coaches. On this blog we will introduce many of our coaches and feature some of their thoughts about congregational transformation.

You can learn more about us at and you can apply for coaching at