#029 – Ministry in a Smaller Church in a Smaller Community w/ Ryan Hayden


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In this week’s episode of The Ministry Connection Podcast, Pastor Ryan Hayden joins me to discuss some of the idiosyncrasies of serving in a smaller church in a smaller community.  We each came up with a list of 5 and we went back and forth sharing our thoughts.  I really enjoyed the discussion and I think that you will too!  Thanks for listening!

About my guest:


Ryan Hayden

Twitter: @RynHayden

Ryan is the pastor of Bible Baptist Church in Mattoon, IL.  He also blogs over at PastorRyanHayden.com.

Check out his 1 minute devotional podcast A Minute with Jesus.

Our Thoughts:

Ryan’s #1

A huge percentage of the stuff people talk about in books and conferences totally wouldn’t work where you are at.


My #1

You need to know your history.

  • of your community
  • of your church
  • if you’re planting, you’re part of building a church’s history and that will take a while.


Ryan’s #2

People are very family oriented.

  • Small town people are family people.  That’s a great thing but it can also be frustrating when you’ve got people missing services to go see their cousin sing at first baptist.  Don’t even get me started about camping season.  People in our town go camping.


My #2

There are fewer places to go, so you will really be able to build relationships with the people that work at or own those places.

  • get to know your local leaders, but even more importantly, get to know your barber.


Ryan’s #3

Your church is effected more by the town’s finances.

  • Small towns have small economies, and that means most of our people have small economies.  Fund raising is very, very difficult.
  • Twenty years ago half of our church worked for Blaw Knox Paving Machines and almost the other half worked for Ampad.  Those were good, union jobs and our guys were making like 40 to 50 thousand a year.  Now, neither of those companies are in our town, and those same guys are working for less than half of that.
  • In a small isolated town like ours, most people are in farming or manufacturing, and the manufacturing is slowly dieing.  We’ve got a lot of skilled workers in our church.  I mean if you need people to fix the plumbing or electrical, then there’s a line, but our church just doesn’t have any money, and I look at the town, and the town doesn’t really have a lot of money either.  So that’s a struggle.


My #3

It’s more likely that a large part of your church is interrelated somehow.


Ryan’s #4

People are very laid back, set in their ways, and casual. 


My #4

You know you pastor a smaller church in a smaller community when you calculate growth and participation by percentages.

Ryan’s #5

People still come expecting a wide offering of ministries, but that is nearly impossible in a smaller church in a smaller community.

My #5

There could be more pressure to cooperate ecumenically.

  • ministerial association
  • prayer against drugs


It’s tempting to think that everyone has already heard the gospel and if they wanted to come to our church, they would already be here.


Thanks for listening to this week’s episode!  Until next time, keep serving Jesus!

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One Comment

  1. Hey Brian. Great podcast and you and Ryan were bang on in all of your observations. I’m in a community of about 25,000 in Eastern Canada and the church when I got here ran around 50. Like your churches, there was much history and family connections.
    One thing I would add is to lead by consensus. Small churches in small towns have done things a certain way for a long time. Often the leadership has been in leadership for a long time, and one angry deacon can affect many families (because they are all related). So I have learned to take things really slow. I will bring something forth, let it marinate in their minds for a while, pray about it and so forth. It has taken me months and years to incorporate somethings but I have been able to do so with unity because of patience and an understanding of how these things sometimes work.
    Love the podcast! Keep up the good work.

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