To My Friends Who Pastor Big Churches

Chess pieces - no borderWe are on the same team.

I’m grateful when you are there to help me and other Small Church pastors. But I also want you to know that we are here to help you too.

There is a lot we can learn from each other.

When megachurch pastors hold conferences, I know they do it to provide a service to fellow ministers, and many offer discounts, scholarships and outright free tuition for many pastors who couldn’t otherwise afford it.

So I don’t question anyone’s motives. But I do question some presumptions, because we all share them.

Many of you would argue with my premise that a lot of churches are called by God to be Small Churches. I will never convince many pastors, from churches of all sizes, that small is ever OK because being OK with being small feels like giving in to mediocrity. I know the feeling. One book (or website) wouldn’t have been enough to convince me of it either.

For those who find yourself arguing that no church should be OK with being small, consider this. We all know that a big church should have small group ministries. After all, churches should grow big and grow small at the same time. If so, why are small groups important?

I would propose that small groups are needed in big churches for the same reasons Small Churches are needed in the body of Christ. Because they offer unique opportunities for fellowship, ministry, commitment, worship and discipleship that you can’t get if you’re only a part of a larger group.

No pastor despises the role of home group leaders in their church so, if it helps, let’s look at Small Church pastors as the home group leaders of the body of Christ.


We’re OK, You’re OK

No one needs to feel bad for Small Church pastors because our church is small any more than you’d feel bad for your small group leaders because their groups are small. Being small is a big part of why those groups exist and why they work. The same goes for Small Churches. Being small is a major part of why so many of us exist and why our ministries work. Many of us find great fulfillment in ministry because we know we fill a role in the kingdom of God that only we can fill.

I do believe that we need to celebrate ministries who experience numerical growth, especially if that growth isn’t transfer growth. But while we celebrate those stories, we need to figure out a way to celebrate the less visible successes of churches whose weekend worship attendance numbers don’t seem to change much from year to year.

To all my friends who pastor large and/or growing churches, I want to let you off the hook. The next time we talk about how our ministries are going, there’s no need to change the subject, cheer me up or look away awkwardly when I tell you our weekend worship attendance hasn’t grown again this year. I don’t feel bad about it, and neither should you.

The fact that my church is small doesn’t mean I’ve failed to fulfill my potential. I am where I want to be, and I’m pretty sure it’s where God wants me, too.

I’m happy for you and your church, and I hope you can be happy for me and mine – I certainly am.


This post is an excerpt from The Grasshopper Myth


So what do you think? What can big churches learn from Small Churches? Do you think Small Churches have a part to play, or should we always strive for bigger?

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3 thoughts on “To My Friends Who Pastor Big Churches”

  1. More good stuff brother!
    Got the book yesterday, gonna be tearing through it more than once I’m sure.
    Thanks again!

  2. I think your book sounds like something I would love to read. Many of the principles you share I firmly believe in. Small churches provide amazing opportunities for believers to connect and grow. They are not to be looked down on nor seen as a mere steppingstone preparing leaders to lead their own megachurch.

    The one thing that megachurches offer that small churches can’t is the opportunity to engage in large mission projects due to scale or budget. But what if you want to keep the intimate atmosphere of small church and engage in huge projects? For that there is one word: networking. Places such as Newsmallchurch offer the opportunity for ministers to share and collaborate without losing the individuality that makes their small church special and without feeling they have to join a megachurch. God bless the megachurch but small is beautiful.

    1. I couldn’t agree more, Jay.

      I think there are a lot of guys like us with the same frustrations about how Small Churches have been perceived. That’s where the book and New Small Church came from – my appreciation for Small Church ministry and my frustration at the lack of understanding of that in most of the church leadership world.

      Everyone has something to bring to the table. It’s not an issue of big or small being right or wrong, but of valuing and using each to help the entire body.

      I just read your latest post “What’s Holding Us Back?”. The cooperative spirit you write about in that post has a lot in common with what I say in my book, especially in my second-to-last chapter “Just One City”.

      Email me at and we can work out how to get a copy of the book to you ASAP. I had hoped to have book sales set up here on the website ahead of the announced date, but I’m dealing with a programming glitch that may not get resolved for a while, so coordinating book sales through email is all I have for now.

I'd love to hear from you!