Preaching Articles

There are so many ways to do church.

As long as you’re honoring the Bible, worshiping Jesus and loving people, no method or structure is wrong.

But any method or structure can be done wrong.

Thankfully, it can also be done right.

Whatever program, asset or resource you think your church needs in order to become great, you can find a church somewhere that became great without it.

It’s not about what you have or don’t have. What you do or don’t do. It’s far more about doing it well, not matter what you have or don’t have.

For instance…

A church doesn't need to own a building. But if you do, use it well.

Use the church building to honor God and serve people. Don’t use the people to serve and honor the building.

If you don’t own a building, you can do that well, too.

There are so many advantages to not having a permanent building as a church home. From the portability, to the monetary savings and more.

So, if your church doesn’t own a building, don’t fight it. Lean into it. Find the advantages of not having a mortgage or maintenance, and use those advantages in the best way you can.

A church doesn't need to have a pastor. But if you do, treat them well.

Many churches are lay-led and function just fine. But if your church has a pastor-led structure, do that in the best way you can.

Honor your pastor, appreciate their hard work, ask “how can I help”? And remember to pray for them and their family regularly. They bear a burden deeper than you’ll ever know.

And if you are the pastor, be the best pastor you can be. Pray, preach and teach. Equip the saints.

And always remember your family is your first and most important arena of ministry.

A church doesn’t need to be a certain size. But do your size really well.

Is your church mega? Do mega well.

Take avantage of the opportunites that come with increased visibility, resources and options to exalt Jesus and bless people even more.

Is your church small? Do small awesome!

Get to know each other. Help each other.

And create an environment that welcomes new members of the family with open arms and hearts.

A church doesn't need to be in a denomination. But if you are, respect it and participate in it.

In the last few years, I’ve spoken to and worshipped with almost every major denomination there is. And I’ve learned a great deal from all of them.

One of the main things I’ve learned is that there are no perfect denominations. If you’re fed up with yours, look before you leap. Whatever group you’re thinking of jumping into has a bunch of pastors who are ready to jump out.

It’s not that switching denominations – or dropping denominationalism entirely – is wrong. It’s just that we need to look at them all with open eyes and gracious hearts.

Wherever you are, as long as you’re there, you owe it to that group to give it your best.

And if you’re non-denominational, do that well, too.

The nondenominational tag shouldn’t just say what you’re not. Find something to be for.

Use your independence to reach out to others, build networks, support each other and bless the entire body of Christ.

A church doesn't need to have any particular liturgy. But honor and explain the liturgy you have.

Every church has liturgy.

Some are old, formalized and recognized.

Some are new, informal and unacknowledged. But it’s still there.

So, if you’re in an older church with a deep, rich, liturgical style, honor it and celebrate it.

If you’re more informal and casual, go with the flow.

But whatever you do or don’t do, please remember this. Explain to your guests why you do what you do – and don’t do what you don’t do.

Not in a divisive way (“we’re not like that bad church down the street”), but in a way that helps newcomers understand what’s going on.

And not just newcomers. In every church there are people who have been doing things for years without knowing why.

Do you have designated seating? Are drinks allowed in some places, but not in others? Can I have kids in the adult service with me? Am I allowed to participate in communion if I’m a guest?

We do so many things without thinking about them, but they can be very confusing to a first-timer.

No, we can’t answer every possible question in every service. That would take the entire service time. But every church should make the answers to their FAQs as obvious as possible.

Other Things A Church Doesn't Need…

Your church doesn't need a worship team, a choir, small groups, Sunday School, hymnbooks, video screens, or any other “must have” resources, programs or groups. But if you have them, use them well.

If you can't do them well, it's better not to do them at all.

And if you don’t have them, don’t be in a rush to get them.

Churches don’t become great by adding more programs. They get better at the ones they already have.


Karl Vaters is the author of The Grasshopper Myth: Big Churches, Small Churches and the Small Thinking That Divides Us. He’s been in pastoral ministry for over 30 years and has been the lead pastor of Cornerstone Christian Fellowship in Fountain Valley, California for over 20 years. He’s also the founder of, a blog that encourages, connects and equips innovative Small Church pastors.

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Lawrence Webb

commented on Aug 22, 2017

We're so program- and structure-oriented, it's difficult to accept what you're saying. Of course, the New Testament church had few of these items on your "if you have them, do them well" list. I was in congregational and denominational positions as well. In retrospect, I think we often were over-committed to programs that didn't always fit the needs of the local church. We, unconsciously, "sold" programs as "The Way" to do church. One Southern Baptist study book I recall was titled "Building a Standard Sunday School," strongly implying this was "The Way" to have effective Bible study. Looking to Nashville, the seat of most of the denominational offices, we may have wound up serving the denomination instead of using denominational programs as they fit local church needs. And, honestly, with the busy life of a congregational minister, if there's a plan somebody in Nashville put together and promoted, I'll grab it and run with it. So it wasn't all bad. Much of it was good, as long as we kept the perspective of who was serving whom. The danger might come in identifying the denominational plan as of divine origin: to serve "headquarters" becomes the ready-made way to follow Christ.

Dr Robert Ballard

commented on Aug 23, 2017

To say a congregation in a denomination should respect and participate in it is not so simple. In this day when an evangelical congregation who finds themselves in a liberal mainline denomination who are promoting anti-Biblical activity such as queers being ordained and unborn children being murdered, there is a lot of problems. When an effort is made to leave the denomination, war is declared on the Biblical congregation by the liberal establishment. Often there are lawsuits which claim the congregation can depart the denomination only if they give all their property to the denomination. In those cases, a congregation will often hide their denominational affiliation and act as non-denominational in order to survive.

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