If It’s Okay for a Church to Be Small, Why Do I Feel So Bad When It Is?

sad 1240 x 697I had another one of those Sundays, recently. We started church with more people on the platform than in the congregation. Well, almost.

Sure, it’s summer. People have good reasons to be gone. But it still feels awful.

But why? I’m the small church guy, after all. If anyone should be okay with a low crowd, it should be me, right?

Sometimes my sense of value in ministry is still tied to numbers more than it should be.

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2 thoughts on “If It’s Okay for a Church to Be Small, Why Do I Feel So Bad When It Is?”

  1. Robert Van House

    I was asked to share my preparation to preach in my first full time pastorate (The University teacher had asked me to come to the class of pre-theologies). After talking with them, one student asked, “I understand that you preach to the empty pews on Friday night and again on Saturday morning and evening.” I felt real professorial. “My question is, how many pews have you converted.”

    Now after fifty years, and long retired, trying to help a small church, I find I still haven’t converted a single pew, and there are many, many more out there that are empty. Yesterday was my downer. I was the only one for Sunday School. Then six faithful members show up for worship. Our key scripture has been “where two or three”, and I have to comfort myself knowing the unseen participant is there in spite of the pew count. I still had to ask, “Is it me, Lord?” I don’t think so. The sermon is good. It seems that the Lord still wants me here, for some reason. So I will prepare for next Sunday gathering of the pews that have a few in them and let the Lord take care of the rest.

  2. Karl,
    We all say, “it’s not about me, it’s about Jesus.” We believe that, but countless times we don’t feel that.
    Perhaps I’m at the stage in life (after almost 45 years of ministry) where any opportunity to share the gospel or a biblical message has become a privilege. Sure, I look at how few people (when I’m in the US) are gathered each week at the 3 studies I teach during the week, compared to when I do ministry overseas, but I still count it a privilege. I commit to that, even though I find myself thinking my message “ought” to be heard by more than it is.
    Perhaps the Lord is preparing us for what is ahead when “the hearts of many grow cold” (aren’t they already! ;-). The young people I’m in contact with on a regular basis keep insisting that community is most important, not just meeting for a church service. Yet, the more formal meetings are what we know. That’s our place of strength of experience. And then I’m reminded how the Lord’s strength is made perfect in my weakness.
    I do think this is the Lord’s preparation for what’s ahead, but it would be great to know what it will look like. 😉

    Thanks for your honesty, openness & commitment to persevere. I know the Lord honors it.

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