DNA OF GROWTH & MONEY
History is Huge
The history of a church is something they take great pride in. It is part of the “jack of all Trades” mentality. They are the ones who have managed to keep the doors open in spite of everything through the years. You need to know the entire history of the church. Read the notes from business meetings (if they have some). Talk to the older people, become a student of church history. You will find that by honoring their heritage, they will listen to you because you understand them.
Growth is Bad
In many rural areas, growth represents loss. As companies in their communities have grown it has meant the closure of many places in their communities (think WalMart). In their world maintenance and survival is healthy. They don’t focus too far down the road – they are in a survival mentality – How are we doing today. If we get too large – we lose our sense of community and the family atmosphere goes away.
Healthy is good
While most pastors look at growth issues – rural churches look at health. Pastors think that health is measured by growth, but rural people view healthy as not sick. They pride themselves on not going to a doctor. It doesn’t mean they are necessarily healthy – it just means they are not sick enough to go to a doctor. As long as the doors are open, then most people consider the church healthy. Even if the church is limping along, then it is healthy in their minds.
Money is funny
In rural areas the income is very cyclical. They often have an aversion to church debt – although they think nothing of personal or farm debt. Since their resources are limited, the often have a “make do” mentality. I call it the duct tape syndrome. We will just patch it up and see how much longer we can make it last. If they become passionate about something – they will support it. Somehow, they come up with the money – but only if they feel passionate about it. Some people use money as way of influencing decisions in small churches.
It is amazing how many small churches exist because 2 or 3 families are paying all the bills to keep the doors open.