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The Small Parish - Reflections for 2022

Hi Everyone,


As we come together this year, let's reflect and talk about how to grow stronger together.

Here some interesting insights; I would like us to think about as we go forward into the future.

We have some great things going for us here and like so many churches, big and small, this is a time to prayerfully consider what we could do to move beyond sustainability together. The five items below are from a fantastic article and I am sharing the thoughts from it.

1. People

The most important feature of a small congregation is its people. There are three factors to consider when evaluating how many people make for a sustainable congregation. First, churches with fewer than 20 committed members or participants will have a hard time staying afloat or being in ministry to others. Second, congregations need at least three generations —not counting the pastor and the parsonage family — to be sustainable. Third, consider the culture of the people. Are people closed off or caring?

2. Prayer

After people, the second most important factor is prayer. Without a spiritual foundation, your church is not sustainable, no matter the size or the budget. In addition to having a prayer chain, do you begin meetings with prayer, pray for guidance during decision-making time, and then follow the guidance? Prayer is the key to cooperation with God, as well as to sorting through the many choices that are before you. Your congregation must be firmly grounded in prayer to succeed.

3. Provision

Sustainable small churches support themselves financially, often through a combination of tithing, memorial gifts, endowments, special funds, and fundraisers. Beware a few pitfalls. First, big givers should contribute no more than 25% of the congregation’s budget for long-term sustainability. Your large givers will eventually move or die. Second, endowments should not fund more than 25% of the church budget. Endowments relieve the urgency for attendees to become givers or to give sacrificially. Third, don’t rely on in-person giving only; this dynamic undermines sustainability. Instead encourage people to set up automatic withdrawals to the church or other forms of online giving.

4. Partnership

Churches with people, prayer, and provision need to form community partnerships to ensure sustainability. As you transition out of the pandemic, create ways for your building to become multiuse. Some common ways are to rent space to a preschool, a local nonprofit, and/or one or more 12-step groups. But first don’t forget to clean out the closets, reconfigure storage space, and let go of items that have fallen out of use. This will create more space for your partners.

5. Presence

Now that you have people, prayer, provision, and partnership, it’s time to amplify your community presence. Establish and keep up a Facebook page as well as a website. But if the website can’t be maintained, better not to have it. Don’t forget small town newspapers, radio stations, and grocery store bulletin boards. The more you show up in the community, the more people will know where to turn when they need you.


Share them at our annual meeting and drop me a note!

Fr. Martin

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