How Any Church Can Be a Great Church—Regardless of Size

No church can do everything. Not if we want to do any of it well.

But every church can do something really well. Maybe a couple things. That’s what makes a church great. Knowing what we’re called to do and doing it really well.

Especially in a Small Church.

But too many churches waste unnecessary time and energy trying to copy other great churches instead of doing what they’re called to do. Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, but it’s no way to build a great church.

So how do we build a great church? Find out what you’re called to do, then do it really well.

And make sure that the thing you do well isn’t buried beneath things you don’t do as well. In publishing, that’s called burying the lead.

Churches bury the lead all the time. We hide our best stuff beneath layers of things we don’t do well at all.

Why? Because we have a template in our head of what a church is supposed to look and act like. But more often than not, that template is based on churches we look up to, or churches we were raised in, instead of what God is calling our church to be and do.

We all need to figure out what our church is supposed to be about, then feature what we do well.

Here are a few ideas. 

Feature What You Do Well

Are children and families your emphasis? You should have “kid-friendly” written all over everything you do. Literally. Hang banners and balloons in front of the church. Feature your kids’ artwork all over the walls—and not just the Sunday School walls, the main lobby walls, too.

Do you want to be known for your friendliness? Have smiling greeters waving people into the parking lot. Assign people in each seating section to say “hi” to guests and introduce them to others before and after the service. But don’t have guests stand and introduce themselves during the service—that’s not friendly, that’s just awkward.

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Karl Vaters
Karl Vaters is the author of The Grasshopper Myth: Big Churches, Small Churches and the Small Thinking That Divides Us. He’s been in pastoral ministry for over 30 years and has been the lead pastor of Cornerstone Christian Fellowship in Fountain Valley, California for over 20 years. He’s also the founder of, a blog that encourages, connects and equips innovative Small Church pastors