“I am in the process of transitioning from a medium size church to a smaller church. On a good day there are 20 children from birth through high school. How do we go about beginning something as dynamic and powerful as SHIFT but reasonable for the small church to manage?” -A Motivated Children’s Pastor
Let me be the first to say, “If the principles discussed in SHIFT: What it Takes to Finally Reach Families Today,” can’t work in the smaller church, they are not really that useful to the Kingdom. In my particular ministry I have served as a Student Pastor in a church running 125 on Sunday morning, An Associate Pastor in a church Running 500, and now Associate Pastor at Kingsland. I have learned that bigger does not necessarily equate to better or more effective. I have also learned that the large church deals with different issues than the smaller church. With that in mind let me answer the question: Will Milestones work in smaller churches? I say, Yes! Here’s how and why?
- Milestones, Faith Talks, and God Sightings have nothing to do with the size of your church. When your church makes the SHIFT you embrace 3 strategic concepts. First, people grow spiritually along a common path of spiritual formation called Milestones. These Milestones are growth points to be celebrated as you walk out your journey of faith. Parents lead their children toward the next Milestone by conducting intentional Faith Talks once a week designed to teach truth necessary for growth. Parents also lead their children by capturing God Sightings or moments God provides along the way that we unintentionally experience. The God Sightings provide us with supernatural moments along the way that we can use to impress the Word on our children. These 3 major aspects of the strategy are the same in a church of 50 or 5000.
- Volunteers can be Milestone Champions. You don’t need paid staff to have milestone champions. The smaller church can recruit volunteers to serve as the Milestone Champions described in SHIFT. At the baseline you could operate with 2 Milestone Champions: One overseeing Milestones 1-3 (Children’s Ministry) and one overseeing Milestones 4-7 (Student Ministry). Then your small group leaders or Sunday School teachers can be organized under these 2 champions.
- Seminars can be used with 2 people or 200 people. Look at the demographic of your church. Who attends? If you only have 20 kids from infancy to High school you should not feel the pressure to host a huge Parent Summit every semester. Instead, consider using the seminar material provided at www.legacymilestones.com for each milestone to host small gatherings of parents. Maybe you have a wednesday night class for Milestone 1 parents. If you have 2 families attend you have made forward progress. Allow yourself to make the SHIFT one family at a time in smaller settings. Don’t define success as a big number event. At the same time, you can consider partnering with churches in your area to host a Parent Summit that potentially will impact your entire community.
- A Resource list can be just that… a list. Our first step in resourcing parents to lead their children spiritually was providing a resource list. You really don’t have to build a Resource Center, just provide a list. It worked for us and I am sure it will work for you. Parents love that you have previewed and recommended resources that will help them lead their child toward the next milestone. The list will be great tool for them. If you need help you can access our resource list at www.legacymilestones.com.
- A Pastor in any size church can write a “Table Talk.” A pastor of any size church can write a table talk for families based on the content of the sermon. Our pastor writes a short paragraph that guides parents to discuss the Bible with their kids. For us, this is an entry level Faith Talk giving parents a win every week.
- Churches can customize events to meet the needs of their people. All of the campus events supporting Milestones described in SHIFT can be conducted in a large or small church. You have the freedom to customize these events to fit your church. A Baby Dedication event is meaningful with one family or with ten. The same is true of all of the milestone events. If there are no kids in your church headed toward Milestone 6 (HS Graduation) this year, simply don’t do the Senior Summit event this year. You get the idea. Be fluid enough to adjust to your context.
I encourage you to jump in. The most important things are that you create a path that everyone understands and that you equip parents to be the primary faith influencers of their children as the Bible describes. You do not have to be a big church to pull this off. It all starts with one family. Eat the elephant one bite at a time and don’t let the size of your church become an obstacle, large or small.
For more Information on the book “SHIFT: What it Takes to Finally Reach Families Today,” visit www.shift.group.com.