Some of the advantages of the mega-church are the ability to create and engage in technology, hire multiple staff who are focused on particular areas of ministry, writing and sharing free (or nearly free) curriculum, and inviting thousands of people or pastors into their doors to train or minister to them in an hour or weekend. These are accomplishments which are generally a challenge, or even impossible, for the smaller church.
The small church may not have the funds to develop online giving, but millennials will want it. They may not have people particularly gifted in writing curriculum or outreach or the plethora of other areas of ministerial expertise. And, with the possible decline of the mega-church, the outlet for training hundreds at a time may disappear. So, the small church will need to begin to morph while embracing its family-like structure that seems to appeal to the coming generations.
So here are some tips for the small church with an outward-focused mindset:
1. Hire multi-talented pastoral staff members
Because the churches may be small, the staff will likely also be small. Small churches may have only one pastor. Since these pastors will not be able to outsource specific areas of leadership and may not be able to rely upon the support of mega-churches, elders and governing boards will need to look for staff who have abilities in more than one area.
2. Focus on leadership development
In addition to hiring staff who may be able to lead more than one area of the church, pastors or denominational leadership may need to focus on leadership development. In other words, pastors will need to be able to find and empower laity to lead in various areas. Pastors will need to be able to share leadership, be collaborative and train other leaders in ministry.
3. Develop Denominational Support
The church is faced with the challenge of becoming smaller and having less financial support in an era when the legal situation for the church is becoming increasingly complicated. A small church that may be sued or fined for not participating in activities with society deems acceptable will probably not have the funds to support a lawyer to defend against the gigantic non-profits which might press charges. Being a part of a denomination which has hundreds of small churches contributing to its success may help bolster the church through challenges like this. Additionally, affiliation with a greater family may be something that Generations X and Z are attracted to. Denominations may also be able to supply leadership development for pastors or laity.
4. Be Tech Savvy
Millennials will expect giving and child-check in to be automated. While they want family they also want modern convenience. Therefore, the small church will need to partner with those who know the tech field in order to find or create free applications which will support the technology minded millennials and post-millennials.
5. Encourage Diversity
According to recent research, the coming generation, the homeland or i-generation, will be much more diverse in terms of ethnicity. Churches will need to be able to develop ways in which to care for and be family with diverse populations.