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Pastor How (Tan Seow How)   pastorhow instagram
Pastor Lia (Cecilia Chan)   pastorlia instagram
Heart of God Church (Singapore)   pastorlia instagram
Stay connected
Pastor How (Tan Seow How)
pastorhow instagram
Pastor Lia (Cecilia Chan)
pastorlia instagram
Heart of God Church (Singapore)
hogc instagram

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Length: 5-minute read

Now it is no longer about who has more resources but who is more resourceful.

Pastors of small and medium-sized churches, for once you can go toe to toe with the megachurches.
Here’s why.
Now it is no longer about who has more resources but who is more resourceful.

This is the season for the little guys. When I say ‘little guys’ I mean it with all respect and in the best way.
It’s the little guys who wear the cape and serve their congregation from cradle to weddings to hospitals and funerals. 
They are the ones who oxygenate the community. 
So just like governments are trying to save the small businesses, we should help and serve small churches too. 

Just like how Amazon and Starbucks have eclipsed small businesses and local cafes, branded churches have also dominated our mind space and bandwidth. But 90% of churches in the world are small and medium-sized churches and they are serving their local communities.

This season is favorable to the little guys.
A large church thrives in the big gathering. It attracts with the music, lights, screens, facilities and the charismatic, good-looking preacher.
Nothing wrong with all that. Heart of God Church has all of the above except the last factor. 🙂
The coronavirus has leveled the playing field.
No more large meetings and conferences. Everyone is in a small group or at home.
Every megachurch is now a small church or a house church.

I am a military buff, so bear with me. It’s like a field army being forced to fight house to house. From tanks, artillery and air support to bayonets and hand-to-hand combat.

Remember when you went to a megachurch’s conference and thought: “No way my church can produce that.” 
Well, nobody can anymore.
Now it is no longer about who has more resources but who is more resourceful.

I was watching Jimmy Fallon (At Home Edition) with Pastor Lia the other night… yes cabin fever. He is producing the show at home, with his wife as the camerawoman and his kids crawling all over him.
And audiences watch it and love it. 
Because it is raw and real. YouTube and Instagram Stories have altered this generation’s taste. They don’t need professional and polished. Gen Z no longer need slick, they are OK with handphone videos.
So don’t try to match your online content with the big brands.
Authentic, candid, personal is the way to go.

Update: A year has passed since this article was published, and we still see the principles at work. In May 2021, Singapore experienced a second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic and went into another stay-home season. Our young people innovated and introduced LIVE Audio Services to the church. 

Close to 3,000 of our members tuned in through voice chat. Even with so many people in the “room”, it was personal and organic. Some of our members said it was like having a personal phone call with the Senior Pastors and they loved it. 

You don’t need to be a megachurch with impressive lights and facilities, a huge budget and skilled IT professionals to do this. It is easy, simple and affordable. Anyone can do it. 
Truly, it is no longer about who has more resources but who is more resourceful.

Another reason why small and medium-sized churches can do well this season:

A close church can afford to close church.

A church who is close can thrive even when it is closed.

I was speaking to someone who has been attending one of the largest churches in the city for over 15 years. She and her family are faithful, tithing and loyal to her church. She told me in a casual conversation, “If I need some pastoral care or prayer, I call the church hotline or email the church office.” She added, “That’s what the majority of our congregation does.” And she went on to talk about how funny her Pastor’s jokes are.
That just doesn’t sit well with me. 
I am sure this snapshot is not indicative of large churches. I know most big churches work really hard to feel small relationally and be small organizationally.

However, this example does show up churches that just gather a crowd and do not have any small groups or any other structure for personal connections. The members are literally socially distant.

I know that not all large churches are like this. Conversely, not all small churches are close and tight. However, the coronavirus crisis does expose churches that are dependent only on gathering a crowd on Sunday.

The lesson learned is this—no matter what size your church is, the majority of your people must be relationally connected to some small group structure and tightly knitted in fellowship.

In HOGC, we call each other “unnecessary friends”. It is a compliment based on C.S. Lewis’ quote: “Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art… It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that give value to survival.” In other words, we actually don’t have to meet each other. We are meeting, not because of work, ministry, purpose, interests or necessity. We are hanging out for no reason, except that we really enjoy each other’s company. We are unnecessary friends. When a church is interlaced with unnecessary friendships, it can continue without large gatherings for a long time.

For disconnected and disengaged churches, this crisis has exposed them to be like the pre-prophecy army in the Valley of Dry Bones—body parts strewn across the battlefield in the fog of the coronavirus war. So for them, the only remaining solution is to throw a lot of stuff online and hope that the dispersed church will tune in.

On the other hand, the small churches and strong churches are tightly connected and engaged (I assume and I hope).
Small church Pastors can personally ‘Zoom visit’ every member.
Strong Church Pastors can text into Discipleship Groups, send out voice notes to ministry groups…
The Pastors can identify who they are, where the needs are, and meet them precisely and quickly.

A close church can afford to close church.
Now a church who is close can thrive even when church is closed.


  1. Shuyi says:

    Truly insightful read from so many angles. A small medium church vs a branded mega church, a TV host like Jimmy Fallon in a studio vs a make-shift home studio. These times of COVID presents itself many opportunities for every church or organization regardless of size, brand, (pastoral) structure… to be more resourceful, and for churches to evaluate if the church is crowd or close.
    Pastor, your article compels one to think bigger, and stretch our present perspectives… if one identifies to be in either categories, this is not the time to be at a loss, but to see there is always an opportunity to go for and do something. Thank you! Please keep on writing these brilliant posts!

  2. Joyce says:

    This is great, Pastor! Really like what you said about keeping connected. As a member of HOGC, I love it that our pastoral care is not an email away, but simply a text message away! Other times, we don’t even need to say anything but our leaders seem to know what we go through. We may be a megachurch but we definitely feel super connected like a small church would! Also I would beg to differ, I think our preachers are good-looking as well haha!

  3. Huimin says:

    There is so much gold and insight in this article.. This whole situation has really created many opportunities and indeed, while we are limited in resources, we aren’t limited in our resourcefulness. This is such an encouragement to pastors and leaders of small church (and even organisations) to be able to be mobilised, to build and reach deeper. Through this period, it also showed me the importance of relationships, and the “unnecessary friendship” we have in church all these years. Being in HOGC, I attest to what is described in the article – even though the mass gathering ceased, we often meet up with each other on both weekdays and weekends on zoom, to catch up with each other and more importantly, we are there for each other during the significant moments (when someone graduates, or finds a new job) and prayed for each other! Our relationship and friendship did not cease! Love this about our church and truly appreciate it now as our closeness is even more tangible.

  4. Jiaxiong says:

    Another full of numerous great insights article! Though we are met with the current tough times, this article brought so much clarity and really helps to re-direct us to look at the current situation differently. 1 part of the article that wow-ed me was the part about the how friendship is unnecessary, and that how important building such friendships are, which in turn helps HOGC to continue without large gatherings for a long time…and this further emphasized why both Pastors in HOGC 1st chose to do the important and not the impressive. So thankful that SPs have 1st paved the way for HOGC to what it is today. Indeed, “Now it is no longer about who has more resources but who is more resourceful.”, which really created a great perspective shift this season. Really believe that this article will be a great encouragement to small and medium-sized churches! “Authentic, candid, personal is the way to go.”, indeed, in HOGC, we have the most real and personal pastors who always relates with us 🙂 In HOGC, that’s where I found many unnecessary friends too that truly love and believe in me for who I am 🙂

  5. Josh Tay says:

    So many truth bombs dropped! but one that speaks in this season.. “Now it is no longer about who has more resources but who is more resourceful.”
    I love this because resources are limited; but being resourceful is limitless! Thank you Pastors for pushing out all these articles!!

  6. David says:

    This article has really good insights and perspectives! I really love this quote: “Now it is no longer about who has more resources but who is more resourceful.” In these challenging times, resources alone may not guarantee success but resourcefulness to make things happen will! In this season, it also highlights the importance of the personal 1 on 1 relationship and connection amongst the pastors, leaders and members and all these it doesn’t happen overnight but now is also the best time to start building those “unnecessary friends”! Really looking forward to the next article and nuggets of gold!

  7. Eunice says:

    So thankful that our church are relationally connected to in our CGs and tightly knitted in fellowship. Especially in this season where we are physically distant from our friends, it is really important. And thank you Pastors for always looking out for us and sharing with us. In this season. we still feel close! 🙂

  8. Cherie says:

    Too excited to read the latest release!

    It’s always privy to Pst How’s insights and heart for the church(es!!). As a member of HOGC, I stand proud that we still feel small and engaged with each other, and are thriving in our home groups. In fact, my CG grew!

    #strongchurch is so important!

  9. Joe Ng says:

    Wow really love the principles that were shared in this article! This whole series of articles have been such a tremendous blessing to not just Pastors, small group leaders but also business leaders. After reading this article, I realised there are so many things that I can do at home in my small group to build, connect and to keep the strong fellowship. Even during this whole circuit breaker period, HOGC has continued to thrive and grow not because of any hidden advantages but because every member is connected and engaged through the small groups like what Pastor How mentioned. Truly in HOGC, we all are connected by “unnecessary friendships”. I have been very encouraged by all the voice notes & the heart to heart sharing in discipleship groups by Pastors and I fully agree that “A close church can afford to close church.” Thank you Pastor How for all these mindset-shifting articles!!

  10. John Tan says:

    Wow. A church that is close will thrive even when church is closed. What an insightful read. The coronavirus has levelled the playing field because the “advantage” of the mega churches removed, and every church is forced back into the same starting line. This gives many small churches (and pastors) hope. It is a test of the church’s pastoral structure and ability to mobilise the people. It is a test of the flexibility of the congregation. As a member of HOGC, I’ve witnessed how Mass services have to cease and we were initially made to meet in small groups instead. Then the groups became smaller, and then we went completely online (no more physical meet ups). At every stage, it was a seamless transition, and I nor any of my connect group mates felt lost in transition. We were promptly and adequately informed and arrangements were quickly made when the government issued directives to religious organisations. I love the strength of HOGC. We are mobilisable and flexible.

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