You May Be a Small Church Pastor and Not Even Know It

Hi, I'm Karl and I'm a Small Church PastorAre you a small church pastor?

Seems like an easy question, right? But it doesn’t have an easy answer.

Many Small Church pastors don’t know they’re Small Church pastors. I’ll tell you why in a minute.

But first, here’s a short quiz you can take to find out if you’re a Small Church pastor.

1. Are you a pastor?

2. Does your church have fewer than 200 people attending on an average Sunday?

If you answered “yes” to both questions, congratulations! You’re a Small Church pastor!

So why does it take a quiz to figure that out? Can’t Small Church pastors count? Is that why their churches are small?

Of course we can count. But most of us don’t think we’re Small Church pastors because we’ve been told that it’s wrong to be one.

So, as strange as it may seem, many Small Church pastors don’t know we’re Small Church pastors. We think we’re big church pastors who just haven’t arrived yet. And we’re working very hard at arriving. Sometimes with harmful consequences.


Embrace the Small

Here’s an unavoidable truth we all need to acknowledge:

90% of us will never pastor a church of more than 200 people. Whether we like it or not, whether we believe it or not, 90% of us are Small Church pastors.

That’s what my picture in this post is all about. I’m holding a nametag that reads “Hi, I’m Karl and I’m a Small Church Pastor“, but that photo is not about me. There’s a reason why the nametag is in the foreground and that it takes up as much space in the frame as my face does.

That photo is meant to serve as a point of identification for Small Church pastors. It’s a pictorial representation of a shift in thinking I had to make a few years ago. A shift towards greater health and effectiveness in ministry. A shift that can’t happen until we admit the truth.

Let’s tell the truth about our church. About our calling. About our spiritual gifting. About our identity.

If you answered “yes” to both questions in the quiz, stop right now and read the next paragraph out loud. I mean it. This matters.

“Hi, I’m (insert your name here) and I’m Small Church pastor.”

Doesn’t that feel good?

Seriously. There’s something about stating the truth that helps us know the truth. And there’s something about knowing the truth that…what was that saying again?…I remember it was written in red letters…

“You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32)

Here’s the truth – accept it and it will free you.

You’re a Small Church pastor.

Now go and be an amazing one.


How about you? Have you struggled with your identity as a Small Church pastor?

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6 thoughts on “You May Be a Small Church Pastor and Not Even Know It”

  1. I was a small church pastor, then I was a BIG church pastor and burned out completely, left parish ministry for 12 years, and now I’m a very small church pastor and loving it! I have time to minister, to be present with people, to know my community, to embrace it’s challenges and strengths. Amen.

  2. The biggest relief from ministry stress came the day I finished reading the Grasshopper Myth, and stood on the deck of my trailer at Lakeshore Cakp and shouted, ” my name is Ralph, and I am. Small church pastor.”. BAM!

    1. Wow, Ralph. I don’t quite know how to respond to something like that. Between your reaction and the fact that you did that at a camp where I spent all my summers as a kid and a teenager, I feel very honored and blessed right now.

  3. Hi Karl. Lately I have been coming across discussions and articles on intergenational church. I was wondering if there are other small church pastors who have offered this model of church and how it works for them. What are some resources for implementing intergenerational church?

    1. I know more churches are trying that. But I don’t know anything about how successful it is or any resources about doing it well. Keeping my eyes open on that one.

I'd love to hear from you!