"What am I doing wrong?!"
How many small church pastors constantly torture themselves with that question?
And it doesn't help that someone's always writing another list to tell us about the mistakes and sins we must be committing that are keeping our church from the supposedly inevitable numerical growth we'd see if we got our act together.
It's not that we don't want to make our churches better. And we certainly aren't anti-growth. But the assumption that we must be making horrendous errors if our church is small has a way of taking a toll on our spiritual and emotional health after a while.
If you're a faithful small church pastor I have some good news for you. If you've read those lists and you don't recognize yourself or your church in any of them, relax.
You're probably not doing anything wrong!
OK, maybe not anything, of course. There are no perfect churches or pastors. But there's no reason to believe that a healthy small church is making more mistakes than a healthy big church.
There are a lot of reasons why churches stay small that have nothing to do with the church or the pastor making mistakes. God has a purpose for small churches just as much as he has a purpose for big ones.
If you are lazy, spiritually dead or willfully disobedient you will find no justification for those behaviors or attitudes here. Being small is never an excuse for settling for less than God's best.
So this is not a list of faults we need to fix or excuses to justify ourselves. After all, small churches are not a problem, a virtue or an excuse. They just are.
When They Play the Blame Game, Refuse to Suit Up
So why is your church still small?
To start with, you're not alone. 90% of the churches in the world are under 200, while 80% are under 100. So the fact that your church is small is not evidence that you're sinful, stupid, lazy, prayerless, unfriendly, disobedient, selfish or any other form of inadequacy.
You and your church are normal.
I refuse to buy in to the idea that up to 90% of my fellow servants in ministry are failures because their churches are small. I've met enough small church pastors to know that, no matter what others may say, small church pastors are some of the most hard-working, passionate, sacrificial, smart and prayerful people on earth.
If you've gone through all the "here's what you're doing wrong" lists and don't see yourself or your church there, here's an alternative. It's my first list of no-fault, small church friendly, guilt-free reasons why the church you pastor may not be growing numerically.