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Solve the “Our Church Will Never Grow” Dilemma

Our church will never grow.

Those were the words I heard over the phone from a pastor. “Because of the town where we’re at, and with it being pretty rural, our church isn’t ever really going to grow.”

It felt like the punchline to a joke that wasn’t funny. I unintentionally let an awkward silence hang over the airways while I caught my breath, hoping he’d fill the silence with, “Oh, you know I’m kidding.” He didn’t.

We were in the middle of a conversation about small groups, and how small groups can be a growth engine for your church as they help connect people into life-giving, discipleship-making relationships.

I was trying to help him see how small groups can be an environment for people not just inside of the church building to connect and grow, but for those still on the outside. A chance for skeptics to “kick the tires,” if you will, not in an argumentative you-better-convince-me-intellectually kind of way, but in a way where they see the church in action.

Where they watch love.

Watch grace.

Watch forgiveness.

Watch confession.

Watch growth.

Small groups are the church. Alive

Small groups are ideal environments to invite your friends to.

But he wasn’t buying it. And I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.

Our church will never grow.

Basically, I was being told, “Evangelism won’t work for us. The Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20) is for everyone else. Because of where we live, we’re off the hook. Jesus couldn’t have meant us when he commanded us them to make disciples of all nations. No way. No how.” 

If you get to the point where you feel like the Gospel isn’t …

Powerful enough

Big enough

Life-changing enough

Culture-shaping enough

Hope-giving enough 

Marriage-saving enough

Addiction-breaking enough 

Grace-infusing enough

Slate-cleaning enough

to shape your community and grow your congregation, get out of the ministry. 

Do something else. Anything else.

The Gospel is too important to waste. Too powerful to keep confined to a small box.

Pastors, your community needs you.

It needs you to believe that there’s hope in the Gospel. There’s healing to be found in surrender. That marriages can be reconciled. That change is possible.

The gospel is not small. 

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benreed@churchleaders.com'
Ben Reed is the small groups pastor at Long Hollow, a multi-site church in the Nashville, TN, area. He holds an Mdiv from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Ben is also an avid coffee drinker and CrossFitter, but not at the same time. Catch up with Ben at BenReed.net. In his book, "Starting Small: The Ultimate Small Group Blueprint," he helps leaders through the process of putting a small group ministry together and creating a place where people belong so they can become.