Never, Ever Say This To a Struggling Pastor

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10 thoughts on “Never, Ever Say This To a Struggling Pastor”

  1. What would be a good resource for a pastor of small, rural churches to help them “grow” (not necessarily in numbers but in health and all other things that can help a Church make an impact, know that they are making an impact, and judge their health beyond just the raw data of numbers)?

  2. Read this in my email today. A welcome message if ever there was one. So often we try to become just like the Pastor or the church down the street. We go to conferences and learn and then try to implement those ideas at home to varying degrees of success. If we could just be like…
    Here is an article that is definitely helpful. By all means go to conferences, try new things, but remember they are not you and their church is not your church. No community is the same and no neighborhood is the same. Take what you learn, but recognize that it is the Holy Spirit who does the real work.
    Fits the thought that we have been trying to tell our denominational leaders, there is no one size fits all.

  3. When I have gone to these “Grow Your Church” conferences I always ask, “What was the size of the church when it began this process? Where was the church located? What was the population like in numbers and make up of the surrounding area? Were there any church splits or conflicts going on in the area as this church started to grow? How much of the growth was true conversion growth (evangelism) as opposed to transfer growth (marketing)?”

    The norm for these church growth products is this: Church had a membership of around 400 and grew to 1200. They were in a suburb of a large city with affluent neighborhoods. There were at least two other local churches in conflict or splitting. The majority of growth was basically redistribution of saints.

    I posed these questions to a Lifeway representative and he could only come up with two churches that were smaller than 200 that had successfully grown. I got the phone numbers and began a two week hunt. One was a church of 100 that did grow to 200 in Oregon but did not give full credit to the product. It was another church which gave them an input of 50 new members from conflict. The other church was in Alaska in the bush that started with 50 folks and grew to 150 per the rep. When I called, the church had closed its doors for good. Curious.

  4. The spirit of God has been leading the churches that I serve. Although the two churches are 10 miles apart, comprised of similar ethnic, age, and racial demographics, they are each entirely different. I am blessed that both churches are growing, but two entirely different approaches to the two churches provide the impetus for their growth. the bottom line is that each are different, and God has a different plan for each. What worked in one did not work in the other. I write this to underscore the point that what makes one church successful should be celebrated, but may not work in essentially the same setting with the same local licensed pastor.

  5. I had an interesting expereince yesterday. I was attending a Preaching Conference at Tyndale Seminary, Toronto ( Canadas premier evangelical seminary). I was asked to participate in a q and a session over lunch where they were discussing the planned D.Min degree program in preaching. They asked us to describe what we would like to see as part of the program. We went through the q and a then were given a propsed syllabus. Part of the cohort would involve attending a sunday service at a ‘significant’ church in the city and spend lunch with the pastor. My comment startled the adjuticators. I said, this leves me out. I pastor a small rural church. They were stunned, and realizing they had ommited a very valued part of ministry, the small church. They began asking me some of the differences and unique things that a small church pastor would want to expereince. It was heart warming that there are people and places in higher education and ministry training who will acknoledge that small churches exist, and they had a vital role in the kingdom.

  6. You nailed it again, Karl! I’m learning from the growing churches that we all admire that while many principles are transferrable, they each had their own niche (so to speak). By niche, I mean an element that involved something special God did in and through their church that they could not have manufactured themselves. This goes back to your mention of why our church exists. Although we all exist to reach those far from God and make disciples, there is something special that only God knows about our church that we are growing in to. I use every proven principle I can find, but I’m also following God’s leading of our church specifically that will give new meaning to growth. Thanks again!

  7. A few other things never to say to a small church pastor:
    Just faithfully preach the Word and your church will grow. (So you’re saying I haven’t been preaching the Word?)
    Church growth happens on your knees. (So I haven’t been praying well enough?)
    Be the kind of person people want to follow. (So I’m deficient in my spiritual life somehow?)
    I think people make such statements truly trying to be encouraging and helpful, but it never is.

  8. Karl you hit the nail on the head with
    1. God takes your church where he wants to take it.
    2. Your church exists for a reason.
    3. Be who God wants you to be.

    Thank you for celebrating, applauding and elevating the status of small church pastors.

  9. Karl articulated this concept so well. I started hosting a small to mid-sized church conference (Excellence Knows No Size) two years ago and this is one of the concepts we embrace. Last year, I gave a copy of Karl’s book (Grasshopper Myth) to all the pastors in attendance. Thanks Karl for such great advice! Bless you. Gotta get you out to Louisville!

    Pastor Mike- New Birth Church-Louisville, Ky

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