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