5 Lessons Small Churches Can Learn from Larger Churches

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Effective leaders have a knack for looking for ministry insights from a wide bandwidth of church sizes, types, and styles.

The key is knowing what lessons to look for, and where to find them.

Earlier I posted 5 important lessons large churches can learn from smaller churches.

But equally true, leaders of small churches, of course, can also learn much from healthy larger churches.

But again, you need to know what to look for.

Here is what I believe are the top 5 lessons small churches can learn from healthy larger churches:

1.   How to develop a spirit of innovation
Some smaller churches can fall into the habit of dismissing innovation because “that’s not the way we’ve always done it.” Healthy larger churches are often quicker to adapt a posture of openness to creativity.

2.   How to foster a culture of leadership development
Some small churches don’t embrace the development of the leadership gift to the same extend as healthy larger churches.

3.   How to provide spiritual leadership for the community
The local church is called to provide spiritual leadership for the community; this need not be the exclusive purview of the large church.

4.   How to embrace the value of “excellence”
Bill Hybels has often noted that “excellence honours God and inspires people”. Healthy larger churches tend to live out this value in a way that genuinely does both. In some small churches a demotivating attitude of “that will have to do” can creep in.

5.   How to develop a coherent strategic plan
In some small churches the extent of planning is limited to pulling off another weekend service in seven days’ time. Healthy larger churches often develop a stronger ability to prayerfully develop action steps to maximize ministry effectiveness.

I’ve spent half my life in a small church, and half my life helping to lead a large church and I’ve learned that both make significant Kingdom contributions. As leaders, some of us simply need to recognize that there are ministry-impacting lessons to be learned across the board – if you know where to look.

What have you learned from churches that are larger than yours? What about from churches smaller than yours?

the author

Scott Cochrane


  1. Excellent points! As a small church advocate I see many examples of congregations not living up to their full potential for the Lord. Instead of being intimidated by larger congregations or trying to be like them, small churches need to see what lessons can be learned from their brothers and sisters to help them move forward in the kingdom.
    Terry Reed
    Small Church Tools

  2. Terry, as I mentioned I lived half my life as a member of a small church, and half in a large church. Love them both! But as you mentioned some small churches either try to copy large churches or can be intimidated by them. It really comes down to having a posture of humility and a willingness to learn. That should be true for leaders of churches of ANY size.

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