New podcast focuses on challenges, joys of small church ministry

New podcast focuses on challenges, joys of small church ministry

Please note that the Rev. Allison Sandlin Liles of St. Stephen’s, Hurst, is part of the leadership of this national group.

Ann Arbor, Michigan—The Small Churches Big Impact Collective (SCBI) is pleased to announce the launch of its new podcast of the same name. Episode 1: “Welcome to Small Churches Big Impact Collective” will be released on December 2, 2021, with six additional episodes to be released weekly. The podcast can be found via Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts.  

The Small Churches Big Impact Collective began in July 2020 when its founding members, six Episcopal clergywomen, were awarded a $10,000 grant from Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary’s College of Pastoral Leaders. The six priests, Rebekah Bokros Hatch, Allison Sandlin Liles, Leyla King, Kit Lonergan, Susie Shaefer, and Stacy Williams-Duncan, each serve small-sized Episcopal congregations (with an average Sunday attendance of 60 or less) in the U.S. in part-time parochial ministry. They created the podcast to share stories about small parish ministry, to identify and amplify the beauty and grace of small churches, to offer tools and best practices to congregational leaders in similar contexts, and to provide The Episcopal Church and other denominations with new models of ministry.

The Small Churches Big Impact podcast takes as its premise that small churches function differently from their larger-sized counterparts. Our mission and our systems do not fit the same models as those of larger parishes. “I was never happy with this idea of the ‘baby big church,”’ said Hatch, “that small churches are expected to run just like big churches, but just on a smaller scale. I knew that I needed a group of people to begin imagining what a more authentic and more faithful way of leadership and organizing would be for small churches.”

The podcast offers a more faithful way of focusing on the specific challenges, joys, demands, and vitality of small parish ministry in a time when congregation sizes continue to decrease and small churches make up nearly two-thirds of The Episcopal Church’s parish membership. It is tailored specifically for congregational leaders of small parishes—lay and ordained—but is also meant for a broader audience and the Church at large. The Collective believes that the tools, skills, and experiences of small congregations must be better identified and applied to the ongoing mission of The Episcopal Church.

“I hope the SCBI Collective and this podcast are just the beginning,” said King. “Everything we do in small parish ministry requires us to have faith that our work—even when it goes unnoticed—has far-reaching effects. We’re all trusting that the same is true for the Collective. This is the first drop. With God’s help, the ripple effects can be enormous. I’m excited to see what fruit it bears.”

Congregational leaders from across The Episcopal Church and elsewhere are invited to join the Small Churches Big Impact Collective via the website,, by emailing or by following the Collective on Facebook and Instagram.