Same Workload, Fewer Numbers: Why a Small Church Pastor May Need Your Encouragement Today

Happy facePreparing a good sermon for 50 people takes just as much work as preparing a good sermon for 5,000.

Many other pastoral tasks are just as hard to do in a Small Church as in a big one. Some are harder. Some are easier.

By the time they’re all added up and balanced out, the skills and gifts needed to pastor a church of 5,000 are very different and much less common than the skills and gifts needed to pastor a church of 50. But the output of time, emotion and energy are probably about the same.

The material rewards, on the other hand, are very different.

Preparing and preaching a sermon for 5,000 people must be quite a rush (I wouldn’t know). Putting the same sermon together for 50 is just as important, but it can be more discouraging than energizing (I do know).

Yes, more people also means more problems – and more complaints. But in a big church, that’s mitigated by at least three factors: 1. There’s more staff to share the burden, 2. Every person with a problem or complaint is a small percentage of the whole, and 3. The pastor is not likely to know the complainer personally.

In a Small Church, most or all of the problems flow through the pastor. Every complaint is amplified by knowing the people personally. And everyone with a problem or complaint is a much larger percentage of the whole. Five complaints in a church of 50 means 10% of the church disliked something enough to tell you. That’s equivalent to getting 500 complaints in a church of 5,000. Ouch!

This is not meant to minimize the pressures of pastoring a larger congregation. It’s just that Small Church pastors face similar pressures, but get almost none of the material, numerical or financial blessings to go along with those pressures.


The Immeasurable Value of Encouragement

No, I’m not whining. At least I hope not.

I am a Small Church pastor and I feel blessed every day that I get to do what I do.

But there’s a reason why “encouraging” is the first word in’s mission statement, Encouraging, Connecting and Equipping Innovative Small Church Leaders.

Pastoring is hard work, with little reward. No matter what size your church is.

Pastoring a Small Church is hard work with fewer tangible rewards. Not to mention what sometimes feels like a constant drumbeat of criticism when your church isn’t growing like some people think it should.

If you’re a Small Church pastor or church leader, please take this short blog post as evidence that you’re loved and appreciated.

You’re not alone. God knows. And so do a lot of us who work in the trenches with you.

If you attend a Small Church, or you work with Small Church leaders, let them know how much you appreciate what they do.

Seriously. Send them an email right now. Or forward this post. Or call them. Better yet, send them a Starbucks card. Even better than that, take them out to coffee or lunch. Or have them over for dinner.

Small Church pastors give more and receive less than most people realize.

A little encouragement into the life and ministry of a Small Church pastor will make their day. Maybe their week or their month. And, in some cases, it may save a ministry.


So what do you think? Do you know of a Small Church pastor you could encourage today?

We want to hear from you. Yes, you!
Enter your comment right below this post and get in on the conversation.

(Happy Face photo from marc falardeau • Flickr • Creative Commons license)

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9 thoughts on “Same Workload, Fewer Numbers: Why a Small Church Pastor May Need Your Encouragement Today”

  1. Hi Pastor Karl,

    I just wanted to let you know that there are a lot of us listening (reading?) that do not post. I want to encourage YOU by commenting here and commending you to keep up the Good work. You are doing an excellent job in a very needed and much appreciated ministry. Blessings, Bro! 🙂

  2. Ralph Juthman

    I so appreciate your ministry and godly wisdom Karl. I have just transitioned to part time status. I am searching for additional employment. I have had such a difficult time adjusting to doing ministry in a restricted time frame of twenty hours. I have had to simply say ministry is Minstry. My people deserve a pastor who is available to them. So taking that step of faith and continuing to give myself full time as best I can. This blog reminds me that I am not alone in my loneliness or discouragement. I look forward to your blogs each week as part of my ‘feeding’.

    1. That’s a big step, Ralph. More pastors have to work with a schedule like that than most people realize. I’m glad we can be there for each other in this format at least.

  3. Thanks Karl… This one brought tears to my eyes…Seriously. And to let you know a great testimony of God’s work… Seconds after reading this, my wife sent me a snapchat message (picture with a note on it) That said, “Just wanted to thank you for what you do and I Love You… and the picture was her blowing a kiss. Wow, thank you Lord.

  4. Stay in faith Pastor Leo Cunningham…God knows what your doing to help others. Sometimes just sit back and let God do the work it wont last forever… Your faith is being tested so keep it as strong as you can at this point. Much love!!!

  5. As a small church pastor, I thank you for the encouragement! Being a small church pastor certainly has its challenges, but the rewards far outweigh the challenges. For one, I like to pastor in an environment that is more intimate and caring, which is something that is generally missing in larger churches. We may be a small band of misfits, but we truly love one another.

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