To My Friends Who Pastor Small Churches

Shattered image

Most Small Churches are struggling.

We struggle to pay the bills, we struggle to recruit volunteers, we struggle with inadequate or non-existent facilities, we struggle to open the front door wider and close the back door tighter.

Most of these struggles are unavoidable. They’re just the cost of doing Small Church.

There’s one struggle we can lay aside if we choose to, though. The struggle to be something we aren’t.

We no longer need to live up to someone else’s expectations or, worse, to our own unreasonable, unbiblical expectations.

Yes, fellow would-be grasshoppers, there are giants in the land. Giant churches with giant budgets, casting giant shadows.

But these giants are not our enemies. To use another biblical example, they are not Goliath to our David.

Instead, we need to use one more biblical analogy. Perhaps big churches are the bicep, while Small Churches are the little toe in the body of Christ.


Cooperation, Not Competition

It’s about cooperation, not competition. We need to learn to be who God made us to be, taking orders from our common head. Let’s get some communication and cooperation going between the little toe and the bicep. Then maybe this body that’s bigger than all of us can actually start doing the “greater things” Jesus promised we would do.

Jealousy is no way to build a great church of any size. Neither is fear, doubt or self-loathing.

In Paul’s body illustration in 1 Corinthians 12, he notes that the despising within the body happens in two distinct ways.

The verses we usually quote are “The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I don’t need you!’ and the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!’”

But Paul actually begins the body analogy, not by addressing the parts that despise other parts, but by speaking to the parts that despise themselves. “If the foot should say, ‘Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,’ it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body.”

Self-despising is where Paul begins the metaphor because self-despising is where all despising begins.

If we won’t despise our (small) size, we’ll have no reason to despise their (large) size.

An excerpt from
The Grasshopper Myth: Big Churches, Small Churches and the Small Thinking that Divides Us
(coming in January)


So what do you think? Have you blamed others for feeling despised, only to find that it began in you?

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(Shattered glass photo by Frank S. Malawski • Flickr • Creative Commons license)

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4 thoughts on “To My Friends Who Pastor Small Churches”

  1. More good stuff brother!
    I don’t believe I have looked at that passage as those “parts that despise themselves.”
    We are our worst enemy aren’t we?

    Blessings to you!

    (ps~ the new pic turned out better)

    1. Thanks again.

      Yeah, that’s not how people usually look at it. It always starts with us. It’s the basis for the title of the book. “The Grasshopper Myth” is from Deuteronomy, when the spies said they felt like grasshoppers “in their own eyes” before the looked that way to the giants in the land.

      Nice pic. First one was good, too.

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