Small congregations are the backbone of the church. Over 90 percent of churches are under 200 people. As many as half of all Christians attend a small congregation. But we’re not helping small churches be strong, healthy and effective at the size they are now. Instead, we’re giving them the impression that they need to …
There’s something very sad and scary about the way too many pastors are leaving the ministry lately. What’s also notable is that these pastors are as likely to be from a large, vibrant and growing church as a small, struggling and shrinking church. Despite all the expectations we put on it, church growth is not …
When it comes to pastoral ministry, I’ve discovered an interesting (and sometimes frustrating) paradox. The more I care for people, the less concern I have for increasing the size of the crowd – while the more I work to increase the size of the crowd, the less caring my ministry becomes. Does anyone else in …
This week I went to a restaurant with a large group of people. When the server took our order she didn’t write anything down. She said she could keep it all in her head. That’s impressive. Except. She didn’t get the order right. There’s no sense doing the extras if you’re failing on the basics.
What does a pastor do when change is needed in order to reach a changing community – or simply to keep the current congregation alive – but we’re met with resistance from the very church members whose support and energy are needed to get the job done?
My most important advice to pastors facing this dilemma is easy to state, but very difficult to do. Don’t attack their comfort zone, ease their fears.
Don’t attack their comfort zone, ease their fears.
It’s easier to get someone to move from something familiar to something new by helping them see the advantages of the new idea than by attacking a familiar idea. And the first step in doing that is to make the new idea more appealing by making it less frightening.
What do pastors, politicians and major league coaches have in common? A whole lot of people who’ve never done their job are convinced they could do it better.
The less experience they have the more certain they are, because those who’ve actually done it know how hard it is.
I can’t speak to how it feels as a politician or coach to constantly be second-guessed by everyone who’s ever watched a game or (not) voted in an election, but I do know how pastors feel when we’re constantly criticized by people who don’t have enough information, but still give lots of advice.
In fact it may be harder on pastors because, unlike politicians and major league coaches, most of our critics aren’t strangers in the stands, they’re people we know very closely.
If this is something you’re experiencing as a pastor in your church today, let me offer a few words of comfort and advice.
For many years, I kept track of church attendance numbers very carefully. As the church grew, I calculated growth patterns, percentages, demographics, you name it. I found that counting wasn’t just important and helpful, it was fun. When we were growing.
Then we stopped growing.
Soon we started shrinking.
So we stopped counting and did what we could to douse the fire before we lost everything.
And we didn’t start counting again for a long time after we corrected the slide and got things stabilized. By then, I was just grateful to be balanced and healthy. The numbers didn’t matter any more.
Does God’s vision for our life, church and ministry have to be big to be real?
I keep hearing that it does. Sayings like “if your vision isn’t big enough to scare you, it’s not from God” have been popular for quite some time now. Apparently we’re all supposed to have a BHAG (Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal – an acronym popularized by Jim Collins in his book Built to Last) if we’re walking in faith and greatness.
I’m just not sure that’s a necessary part of faith or obedience.
Sometimes our desire to chase one big vision after another is more about being addicted to the adrenaline rush of our own oversized passion than following the simple commands of God.
Small church pastors are some of the hardest-working, most passionate and sacrificial people anywhere. They serve without fanfare, helping in ways most people will never see. And they face challenges that many will never experience. In over five years of writing, speaking and talking with thousands of small church pastors of virtually every denomination and …
Where did we get the idea that small churches are small because there’s something wrong with them and/or their pastors?
There are millions of small church pastors doing great, kingdom-building work with little or no budget, little or no facilities and little or no salary. Yet every day they bear as much, if not more pastoral burden as their full-time big church counterparts. All without recognition for the extraordinary sacrifices they make (not that they’re expecting any).
They teach the Word, pray for the sick, comfort the hurting, visit the forgotten and more. Often while putting in 40 or more hours at another job to pay the bills.
Small church pastors are not the failures among us, they are the heroes among us.