When someone goes to a healthy Small Church for the first time, what should they expect?
That’s an easier question to answer for big churches, because they have a lot more in common with each other. Once any group – church or not – is serving 1,000 or more people at a time, certain systems have to be in place. So, while big churches each have their own personality, there is a level of quality control that we all expect to see. Age-appropriate Kid Ministries, high-end musicianship, professional-quality graphics and printed materials, etc. It’s like going to a brand-name restaurant when you’re travelling. There’s a comfort level in knowing what you’re going to get.
But the kinds of experience you’ll have in Small Churches vary widely. It’s more like visiting a new town and deciding to check out the local diner. You don’t know what you’re going to get, but you take the risk because you want local cuisine. And you’re hoping for an experience you can’t get anywhere else.
But, even in a Small Church, as varied as they are, first-time guests have the right to expect certain things that tell them the church is healthy. Like a local restaurant should observe standard requirements for cleanliness, service and food quality, Small Churches should have a baseline of quality that people can rely on.
In one of my most-read posts, 23 Non-Numerical Signs of a Healthy Church, I wrote about some of the ways we can tell if a church is healthy, even if we don’t have the numerical growth that many seem to believe is a requirement.
Here are a few things that I think are a baseline that every guest has a right to expect in any healthy Small Church. These are universal. The standards every church needs to observe if they want to create a great worship experience that people will want to come back for.