It’s pastors who have a problem with them.
The Grasshopper Myth book has been in the hands of the members of my church for about a month. And I’m currently teaching through the principles of it on Sunday mornings. (They’re being recorded and will be podcast here soon.)
So the feedback I’m getting isn’t just from the church leaders I wrote the book for, but from congregation members – the people we lead. As a Small Church pastor, I’m getting it directly from people I know. So it’s not anonymous, it’s not poll data and it’s not filtered.
As I was trying to put their spoken words into written form, I received a beautiful, heartfelt comment on yesterday’s post that reflected those feelings far better than I could have. It’s from a woman I don’t know, named Diane.
Here’s the majority of the comment:
…I attend a small church, and for all of you who are small church pastors, I say thank you and bless you.
I want a pastor who knows me by name, who will be with me in the cold spells until Jesus lifts me up into his loving arms. I want a pastor who has the same passion for God that I do.
I want a pastor who teaches God’s Word, I want a pastor who is willing to work for the Lord hand in hand, who will fellowship with me, who is willing to learn hand in hand beside me.
I want a pastor to whom I can confide, laugh,and cry; a pastor who is my brother/sister in Christ, a pastor who is a part of our small community, who is forthright, honest, with a love for what he is doing because he knows the Lord called him.
I want a pastor who will lead us in growth (not in number, but in spiritual growth).
I ask the Lord daily to give all small church pastors the strength, love and wisdom they need. I ask daily for their families to be blessed. I ask daily for the Lord to bless them (It’s a calling, and not many of us could come close to following their footsteps).
I am a Small Church member, and for all small church pastors, remember…a small church in a small community is a mega church in a small community.
– Diane Carr
Thank you, Diane. You’re not alone in your feelings.
A Peak Behind the Curtain
In The Grasshopper Myth, I relate how the main emphasis in pastoral leadership circles for the past several decades has been on growing big churches. Many pastors read books, hold conferences and hire marketing experts to “fix the problem” of no growth or not-fast-enough growth to the point of obsession.
When congregation members hear this, they’re not happy. They love their Small Church, and they’re surprised and upset to discover that their own pastor may not share those feelings.
The average church attender couldn’t care less about how big their church is. And it bothers them when they find out that pushing for numerical growth is what a lot of their pastors base so many of their decisions, and spend so much of their time on.
To a lot of them, it feels like electing and paying a Senator to represent you, only to find out they’re spending all their time running for president, instead.
Plus, they sense a disconnect between what their pastor is saying and what we spend our time doing.
On Sunday, we teach the principles of God’s Word. Principles that include “the first shall be last,” “whoever humbles himself will be exalted” and the story of Gideon’s army. On Monday through Saturday we obsess over how to get more “customers” in the door.
It feels like bait-and-switch. And it makes many of them them wonder if the church is really that much different than Wal-Mart.
And no, let me say it again, this is not a slam on megachurches. They are important members of the body of Christ. The problem isn’t church size, small or large. The problem is when we have a one-note obsession with it to the point that we can’t appreciate the value of smallness.
Some reading this will, no doubt, be upset at me for pulling the curtain back and putting this painful truth out there – and especially for pointing it out in a book that any church member can pick up and read. But can anyone really argue that it’s not the truth?
Who Are We Doing This For?
It seems as if the things many pastors obsess about, like church size, mean very little to the people we say we’re doing it for. So who, exactly, are we doing it for?
God? Our church members? Or our ego?
Congregation members often have a greater understanding of the value of a wonderful, loving, healthy Small Church than pastors do.
Size doesn’t matter to the average church-goer.
I know what you’re thinking. If that’s true, why are megachurches so… mega?
I don’t think it’s the bigness. I think it’s the benefits that come with bigness. Nice facilities, multi-level programming, high-quality preaching & musicianship, etc.
So a quality experience in worship matters. But there are a lot of church members who measure quality in different ways than many pastors do. As evidenced by Diana’s comments, a well-crafted Sunday stage show and specifically-tailored programs aren’t nearly as important to many church-goers as genuine relationships, solid bible teaching and moral integrity.
Any church of any size can do that.
They get it – do we?
So what do you think? Do pastors need to adjust our thinking on this? Do our church members know something we don’t?
We want to hear from you. Yes, you!
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