Your Church IS Big Enough

Ruler

So you’re a Small Church pastor. Me too.

Have you ever felt like that’s not enough? Me too.

Today I have good news for both of us.

Your church is big enough.

Right now. Today. At its current size.

Your church is big enough to do what Jesus has called you to do, and to be who he has called you to be.

Your church is big enough to minister the healing grace of Jesus to its members. And you have enough members to take that grace to your community in an overflow of joy and hope.

No, I don’t know how big (or how small) your church is. I don’t need to know. Jesus knows. If you’re meeting together in his name and there are at least two or three of you, that’s big enough. If you want to argue with that premise, your argument isn’t with me, it’s with Jesus himself. And it never works out well when we argue with Jesus. 

 

Isn’t Bigger Better?

We’ve had an unhealthy 40-50 year love affair with growing bigger churches in the western church world. Actually, we’ve had a love affair with the idea that bigger is better.

I’ve been to a lot of church ministry conferences. Great events put on by helpful people about how to get better at doing church ministry. I go because it’s good to strive to be better in everything we do. But the not-always-so-subtle message behind most of those seminars and conferences is “your church isn’t big enough.”

And it doesn’t even matter how big your church is. The message is always the same. If it’s 50 people, it needs to be 100. 200? Needs to be 400. 1,000? Shoot for 2,000. You get the idea.

 

Healthy Things Grow, Right?

For years I strived to do what they told me. I applied the principles of church growth so that the inevitable increase would happen. I planted good seed, watered, cleared the weeds, fertilized the soil… I used every planting and gardening metaphor you could think of, then prayed for the Lord to bring increase.

And… nothing.

The numbers stayed the same.

OK, not exactly nothing. There was some growth. In the last 20 years, an unhealthy church of 35-50 has become a healthy congregation of about 200. So now we’re at the upper end of what’s considered a Small Church. But that’s where we’ve sat for the last decade or more. As hard as I’ve worked and prayed, we haven’t been able to break through that elusive, so-called, 200 barrier.

In the meantime Christ has created a vibrant community of loving people at our church. We’ve raised up and sent out missionaries, trained ministry interns, worked to bring Christ’s healing restoration to families and marriages, fed the hungry, taught the scriptures, baptized new believers, seen people saved and healed by God’s grace, and more.

But none of that seemed like it counted on some level because it didn’t add to butts in the seats.

But it did count to Jesus. And it counted to the people whose lives were changed. And as I’ve allowed Jesus to give me an attitude adjustment, now it counts to me, too. In fact, one-at-a-time life-transformation has become the only factor that counts to me now.

 

What Has God Called You to Do?

Jesus calls every church – and every church leader – for a purpose. And he equips us with everything we need to accomplish that purpose.

If God says my church is big enough to do what he wants me to do, no matter how few of us there are, who am I to argue?

It’s time to stop worrying about what we can’t do because we’re small, and start asking what Jesus can do with us because we’re small.

 

So how about your experience? Does this help you re-think what success might look like for your church?

We want to hear from you. Yes, you!
Enter your comment right below this post and get in on the conversation.

(Ruler photo by Håvar og Solveig • Flickr • Creative Commons license)

5 thoughts on “Your Church IS Big Enough”

  1. “Your church is big enough to do what Jesus has called you to do, and to be who he has called you to be.” Thankful for these words today. I pastor two churches, one of which is a small farming church. I love them dearly. We average 30 on a Sunday. I truly believe that God has called me to love them today for who they are in a world that is growing counter to all these farmers have lived and believed their entire lives. I am to teach them, to give them glimpses of ministering in new ways… yet to also journey beside them as their farming community families leave this earth, move away, and choose careers far from farming. I am called to serve them in their grief of this, to minister to them through their aging illnesses, and to know them well so I can memorialize them honorably when that time comes.

    YET… when I try to explain that I know that I know this is my calling to this small church, most pastors give me a look of pity “glad it is you and not me”, or question if that really is the reason, or say “but don’t you want to grow the church??” The focus is so much on the growth of future believers that caring for our current aging ones seems to be at the bottom of the list.

    Of course I want The Church to grow. Of course I love to see young new believers embrace Jesus. With my other church I get the best of both worlds! However, I believe I do get to minister to the young, the unchruched, the de-churched through the small farming church… every time I do a funeral service… I am very deliberate to weave in the gospel message (not in a YOU WILL NEVER SEE THIS LOVED ONE IF YOU DON”T REPENT NOW!!!! sort of way :-)) I get to talk with them, listen to them, eat with them, and represent a gracious loving Jesus to them at the visitations and meals. I absolutely LOVE that!

    Wow… this is much longer than I anticipated when I started typing. I’m new to your sight and in browsing I felt an acceptance of who I am called to be at this little farming church. Thank you for that.

    1. Tress, I can’t tell you how much this blessed me today. I’m so grateful that what I’ve written is an encouragement to you. You’re doing such important, but usually thankless work. Your comments may have summed up the purpose of this site better than I ever have.

      Shepherding the church we have is just as much a part of our calling as reaching out to new people. It sounds like you’re doing both beautifully and I’m touched by your story.

  2. Yes! As a children’s pastor in a small church I can really relate. It’s amazingly discouraging to see how churches in the area can hire helicopters to drop eggs for Easter or bring in Live Animals for their Christmas Plays. I’m constantly having to remind myself that my job is faithfulness to who God’s already given us first.

  3. Rachel Fallorina

    I’m new to this site I must admit it caught me by surprise, I read an article in Leadership Journal that led me here. I pastor a small church (less than 50) in eastern part of Los Angeles County. We started out as a church plant with a seasoned Pastor, however, within 6 months the Pastor passed away. He had asked me to be his co-pastor, of course, when i said yes I didn’t think he would die. After his death I agreed to take the church but I didn’t realize what lied ahead we started to have issues and many of the founding members left. Yet, I didn’t get the green light to close the doors, leave or bring in another “seasoned” Pastor. For a new church we faced problems normally found in old churches. However, within the last year things have change and God has been faithful. Now I see God bringing in young adults who need lots of love, care and people who see the best in them despite their struggles, etc. I’ve worked with young adults for many years little did I know that God would be using our church to reach them. With that said the church is financially healthy, were reaching out to the families of the hotel where we meet and this year will begin an outreach to a local juvenile detention center. I’m was excited to find this website where I can learn from others who lead or Pastor small church/organization. Small is the new large for many individuals who have not been brought up in church or don’t know any of the “well known” mega churches. I believe people just want to be love, accepted and be able to have a conversation or a meal with their Pastor. My Mom attended a mega church for 13 years she went every Sunday and gave faithfully, however, when she got very sick no one came to visit or pray for her in the hospital. Despite all that the large churches have to offer and despite social media we are still people who need people. Please continue the work you are doing encouraging those of us who are working hard for the Kingdom, despite being small.

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