Good News for Small Church Pastors: Your Church is Big Enough | The Brethren Church

Good News for Small Church Pastors: Your Church is Big Enough

Good News for Small Church Pastors: Your Church is Big Enough

Submitted by Brethren Church on Wed, 05/08/2019 - 10:24am

Karl Vaters is the author of two books about small churches, Small Church Essentials: Field-Tested Principles for Leading a Healthy Congregation of Under 250 and The Grasshopper Myth: Big Churches, Small Churches and the Small Thinking That Divides Us. He's also the keynote speaker for Basecamp: Brethren General Conference 2019


 

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.

The congregation you’re pastoring is big enough. Right now. Today. At its current size.

It’s big enough to do what Jesus has called you to do, and to be who he has called you to be.

It’s big enough to minister the saving, healing grace of Jesus to its members. And you have enough members to take that grace to your community in an overflow of joy, hope, salvation and healing.

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 (Matthew 18:20). And it never works out well when we argue with Jesus.

 

Isn’t Bigger Better?

We’ve had a 40-50 year love affair with growing bigger and better churches in much of 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 some of those seminars and conferences feels like “your church isn’t big enough.”

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.

But after an initial period of some growth, our numbers have stayed the same. We haven’t been able to break through that pesky 200 barrier.

Nevertheless, Christ has created a vibrant community of loving people at our church. We’ve raised up and sent out missionaries, trained ministry interns, 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 I couldn’t move the needle on how many people were sitting in front of me as I preach on Sunday mornings. (Yes, me. In front of me. That’s always the problem, isn’t it?)

Yet all that great, kingdom work 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 the congregation I’m serving is big enough to do what he wants me to do, no matter how many, or 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 – whatever size our congregation may be.

 


 

Comments

Member for

50 years 7 months

Submitted by Shelley Helton on Thu, 05/09/2019 - 10:40am

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Thanks for helping me see the small church numbers in a different way! I spend alot of time worrying about our church not growing. We can still do Gods work no matter what our numbers are!

Member for

50 years 7 months

Submitted by Shelley Helton on Thu, 05/09/2019 - 10:40am

Permalink

Thanks for helping me see the small church numbers in a different way! I spend alot of time worrying about our church not growing. We can still do Gods work no matter what our numbers are!

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