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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(Chess photo by • Flickr • Creative Commons license)

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