Ministry in smaller congregations takes expertise and enthusiasm for people not programs, says United Methodist minister and small church consultant Ron Crandall.
A retired seminary dean, Ron has a contagious excitement for the small church, and says that building a core team of leaders within the congregation is key.
In this interview, Ron unpacks this and tells us how building energy around helping people identify the active work of God in their lives builds health into a congregation.
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Ron Crandall is all about working with smaller congregations to identify and invigorate leadership teams that together with the pastor envision, design, and implement the work of ministry in their context. Here are my notes from the interview:
Don't Put It All on the Pastor
In many small churches clergy stay for short periods of time. The result is often personal and missional turmoil during pastoral transitions. The solution Ron suggests requires that continuity in vision and purpose be owned by the core leadership team of the congregation and that pastors coming and going work alongside these teams, nurturing and equipping, so that the ministry stays fruitful.
This is Ron's term for the important work done by church members who are able to step back and see God at work in their lives. This can become a touch-point for congregational unity and wholeness.
Be Open to Transformation
Ron says a common challenge small churches face is when a handful of people get excited about a new direction or an experience of personal renewal that they want to share with others - many in the majority can feel alienated. Remaining close to others through the process of transformation becomes key.
About Ron Crandall
Ron Crandall is an ordained United Methodist elder in the Kentucky Conference and retired as Dean of the E. Stanley Jones School of World Mission and Evangelism at Asbury Theological Seminary. Ron's ministry focus has been on smaller membership churches and effective Christian witness. This dual passion led to the development of ABIDE as a specialized ministry of SLI. His newest book Turnaround and Beyond-A Hopeful Future for Smaller Membership Churches captures the special challenges faced by smaller congregations and the leadership steps necessary to forge new futures. Ron and Bonnie have two sons, Matthew and Joshua, and two grandchildren.
Books Ron Recommends
Turnaround and Beyond: A Hopeful Future for the Small Membership Church
The Externally Focused Church
Power Surge: Six Marks of Discipleship for a Changing Church
The Great Omission: Reclaiming Jesus's Essential Teachings on Discipleship