You are a resurrection that God offers to the world. And you are to serve those whoever Christ has given you, whether it be just a few or many. Don't be discouraged by never showing up on these lists. I think they do more harm than good and really have an underlying purpose with why these lists are published. Feel free to ask my thoughts on this.
This is something I have come to believe. Those top 100 lists will always be the same. You will never see a church listed in there from a rural community. In regards to giving...you will probably never see a church as number one from a rural community. A church of 50 could double their size in one year, you still won't get mentioned because you are only a hundred. Never mind the fact you doubled in size. What I am confident in now that I am a pastor of a church in a smaller town is that even small churches can function as a big church. Let me share with you some ways I strive to function as a big church though our church attendance is under 100.
1. Stay organized: Nothing says, "Backwoods" more than having your congregants showing up to church and having someone shovel, fold bulletins, etc. Just because you are a small church does not mean you should not be on your A game. When people show up to church, don't be wrapping up your message or making your power point. Go and hang out with people...Sunday is not the time to be finishing sermon prep.
2. Stay current: In smaller churches we work on a tighter budget. This does not mean we cannot stay current with trends going on in churches. I attended a conference one year at Granger Community Church. This is a church with THOUSANDS of people in attendance. I noticed one thing though that they do for their children's church and that is a check in station. If you boil that system down it is basically each kid gets a number and if they are naughty, their number shows up on the big screen. That seems easy enough...I got home and put an email out to everyone from church asking for an old computer. Within a day we got one and with the help of a Dymo machine we have a system in place. This gave parents a real peace of mind and just another way to make a small church feel like a big church.
3. Website: In the words of one college age person I talked to, "If you don't have a website, you don't exist." Your church NEEDS an internet presence of some kind. Whether you pay someone to design a website for you or you setup a free blog...this is a necessary thing. With an internet presence you can drive people from your church to that site in order to get information which will lead to a drop in your postage expenses. At Radiant Fellowship we no longer mail anything. If a person does not have a computer than we provide hard copies in our lobby.
4. Technology: I am going to guarantee you that if you walk into a large church you will see some pretty shnazzy tech things. I recently noticed one church doing a live video stream on their website which peaked my interest. I found out what they used and the supplies they needed. This ended up discouraging me quite a bit because we did not have the funds to do something so elaborate. I began to do research and found there is a free service out there anyone can use to stream video live. After a trip to Best Buy I found a great camera Microsoft makes which broadcasts in 1080p (what HDTV's broadcast in) and bought it. The total investment in us streaming our church services live? $110.00. Don't let technology scare you off with prices...there is usually a cheaper route to go which will give you a great quality.
5. Don't micro manage: Pastors of small churches tend to micro-manage the ministries of the church because everything done is visible to everyone. Let me encourage you that if you have a worship leader (paid or volunteer) don't micro-manage them. If a church has the faith to let a volunteer or paid staff person do something at the church, trust them enough to run with it. You have enough to do as a pastor of a small church to not have to worry about every little thing.
6. Keep in mind what big churches do and how they streamline their ministries and time together. This takes no money to do in your own smaller church and it makes for a great time.
7. Just because your building may be small or you are renting a space, this does not mean it should look drab. It is a biblical principle to be a good steward of what God has given to you. When people walk into your church or rented space do they feel like they are in what is the future of the church or did they step back into time?
These are just a few thoughts I have thrown around as I continue to pastor a smaller sized church in Waupaca, WI. I love this church and plan on staying here until I retire...fact is we have ministries that far surpass what could happen inside our church which really makes Radiant Fellowship a ministry on a international level.
Stay encouraged and remember to think big and dream big!