To the Small Church Pastor
I want to talk to the small church pastor. I know what you are going through because I too have pastored a small church. A small church pastor feels overlooked and underappreciated. He is made to feel that he is somehow failing as a leader because his church is not a megachurch or an up and coming megachurch.
Many denominational leaders and conferences inadvertently communicate that if a pastor is not leading a megachurch or an up-and-coming megachurch, then something must be wrong with the pastor’s leadership. Something must be wrong with his preaching style, leadership skills, or ministry philosophy. You hear it all the time in the following statement, “An organization will not rise above the level of its leadership.” That statement may somewhat sometimes apply in the corporate world, but it is not always applicable. Surely there are small companies led by great leaders. The same is also true of churches. In fact, it is even more true of churches. For one thing, a church is not a corporation, and must not be thought of as a business, or ran like a business. It is a church and must be led according to Biblical standards and principles.
Furthermore, we must never forget the sovereignty of Almighty God. Like it or not, God has not decreed that all churches be a large church. Many small churches are led by great leaders. They are better leaders, preachers, and pastors than some of the megachurch pastors. However, their churches will never be mega-churches, no matter what, because God simply does not want them to be. Yes, the small churches, as well as the mega-churches, want to win the lost, love the broken, and feed the hungry. But churches are not meant to do it the same way and with the same numbers. Contrary to what you hear, all churches are not meant to be mega-churches.
Some might ask, “Why are you writing on this subject?” I am writing on this subject in an attempt to give the small church pastor a voice. Too often small church pastors are made to feel that their churches are insignificant, and their leadership is irrelevant. They are often viewed as unsuccessful because they do not pastor a megachurch. Therefore, small church pastors don’t deserve to have a voice or a seat at the table. I realize that is not the intention of most of the conference speakers or denominational leaders. However, the fact is when ministers attend conferences or denominational meetings, we are told how to do things to become like the most popular megachurch being promoted at the moment. We are told how our programs should be, how our services should run, how long we should preach, what songs the young people like, or worse, what the sinners like, and what the “in thing” to do is to entice people into the church.
Let me remind you that a crowd does not always equal a church. If you appeal to the flesh to get people in the church, then you will have to continue to appease their flesh to keep them in the church. I would rather have a smaller congregation that is actually a church than have a large congregation that is nothing more than a crowd but not a Biblical church. I realize that philosophy is not popular today and that it is not conducive to attracting a crowd. However, it was the philosophy and ministerial approach of our Puritan forefathers, and it is conducive to growing a true church that may or may not become a large church. I am okay with that. I am confident in my calling. What about you?
Pastor of a small church, never let the enemy lie to you and tell you that you are not making a difference! You are!
The perception is that there is a megachurch on every street corner. The truth is that the majority of churches in the world are fewer than 100 people. So, if denominational leaders were strategic, they would have small church pastors speaking at conferences, as well as the megachurch pastors. After all, it’s the small church pastor that knows what it is really like in the trenches of the spiritual war. He must engage the enemy day in and day out with very little backup. He knows what it’s like to be exhausted and on the verge of burnout, but unable to disengage. He has no other option. He must press on, move forward, and take ground, no matter what. He knows what it is like to not have enough time, money, personnel, or resources to do what needs to be done. Consequently, he knows how to pray, plan, prioritize, and completely depend upon Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit. This is not to say that pastors of large churches don’t know how to do these things. They do. It is to say that pastors of small churches also know how to do these things, and do them just as well, if not better, in a majority of cases, than the pastors of large churches. Total desperation leads to total dependence upon the Lord.
Pastor of a small church, never let the enemy lie to you and tell you that you are not making a difference! You are! For example, out of the two small churches my wife and I grew up in, there are at least seven or more people who are now in the ministry and serving other small, medium, and large churches. The pastors we had did not just affect the one hundred (plus or minus) people in their congregations. Those seven ministers that came out of those churches are each now serving a minimum of one hundred people. It is very safe to say that those pastors of two little churches in a small southern town affected well over one thousand people through their teaching, training, and love for their sheep. The same is true of you. The future will reveal your impact. Stay the course.
Lastly, I want to thank you and honor you for your dedication, commitment, sacrifice, service, and love you give every day to your flock. It will be worth it all when you hear the words of Jesus, “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.'” (Matthew