If you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it a thousand times, “I just don’t have the resources to do that.” Heck, I’ve said it myself. I remember first walking into the church I currently serve, a 150-year-old small, struggling church, with:
- a small, borderline-dilapidated worship space.
- a projector on a cart shooting words on a screen, sitting on top of the piano in the sanctuary.
- insufficient bathrooms.
- not enough kids’ space.
- few willing to serve.
Add to that a backwards church culture, and it’s enough to make you want to give up.
But . . . we didn’t. We learned the principle of doing as much as you can with what you have right where you are. Ten years later, we have more resources, and in the process of growing, we learned some incredibly valuable lessons about how to grow a church on a limited amount.
Sound too simple? May I remind you that Jesus and the disciples led the greatest ministry in the history of mankind with little to no money.
In fact, at one point Jesus said He was homeless and told the disciples not to take a money bag with them on their ministry ventures. His grace is sufficient. Never forget that He can do more in a moment than we can in a lifetime.
Put mission before money
Your mission has to drive all that you do. The mission of our church is simply to make disciples. That’s free. So we push and promote a culture of dynamic worship, Bible study, prayer, deep relationships, and investing in our neighbors for the gospel’s sake.
Start with your mission.
If your main interest is equipment, technology, events, programs, and buildings, you’ll never make a real impact. Keep your motives right. Guard your heart against comparison to other churches with larger budgets.
Missional passion always trumps resources, and missional passion is what draws others to invest with you.
Think multiplication, not addition
Multiplication is always cheaper than addition. The biggest costs on church budgets are staffing and buildings. Multiply the way your space is used. Multiply volunteers. Think more about small groups in homes and campuses instead of bigger facilities, and video venues instead of live teaching.
Additionally, start treating your best servant-leader volunteers like staff so they’ll take more ownership. Multiply yourself. Divide ministry descriptions into four or five servant leadership volunteer opportunities instead of one or two paid staff positions.
Don’t just count numbers—divide responsibilities and resources and multiply people and opportunities.
Make the most of your resources
Question: Are you really getting the most out of the resources you have? Can you do more services in your current facility? Can you open a new venue on campus?
In our building, most of our full-time staff currently office in our educational spaces. On Sundays they’re on-campus small group rooms, but Monday through Saturday they become our offices. With wireless internet and a cell phone, you can office just about anywhere.
What about having your office in that church member’s finished basement? Sound crazy? Not if you’re a church planter. Get creative. Think outside the box.
Simplify your ministry
Big events, big productions, and major-league programs cost lots of money.
- Can you do marriage ministry intentionally through small groups instead of through that big conference you’re dreaming of putting on one day?
- What about men’s and women’s ministry?
- Do you have to do that big kid’s event or can you do something even more intentional on a smaller scale?
- Is student camp at the beach or the mountains really necessary, or can you do a mission trip for students for less where they sleep on the floor and learn some greater lessons?
- Are those mid-week activities you’re doing at your building really fulfilling your mission or just adding cost so the church can hang out together?
Our philosophy is to make Sunday the big event and funnel people into dynamic small groups and ministry service . . . that’s it. But remember, don’t just cut ministries, create culture. Be intentional in leading your people to think simpler to become more effective.
Don’t be shy
You have not because you ask not! Give your people a life-changing missional reason to give, and then confidently ask them to give. Ask that larger church down the street if you can partner with them.
- Will they allow you to use their copiers and technical equipment?
- Will they give you their unused resources?
- Will they pass you those kid or student decorations?
- Can you share online ministry tools?
- Will that larger church in town with unoccupied rooms during the week let you office there for a minimal lease?
Ask, and you shall receive.
God doesn’t take attendance
Karl Vaters writes a great blog for Christianity Today called “Pivot: Innovative Leadership from a Small Church Perspective.” In his blog article entitled “Jesus Didn’t Wake Up This Morning Depressed by the Size of Your Church,” he writes:
“God doesn’t take attendance . . . He delights in your continued faithfulness, just as He mourns with you in your struggle to cope with yet another tough weekend.”
Be encouraged! If you’re being faithful to God’s call on your life, He’s pleased. God’s calling on our lives and the ministry He gives us isn’t handcuffed by limited resources.
Just do what you can with what you have right where you are for the glory of God. He’ll take care of the rest.