Small Church Ministry
You May Be a Small Church Pastor and Not Even Know It
Ninety percent of pastors are small church pastors. We need to acknowledge that if we ever hope to do it well. (Take this short quiz to know for sure.)

Are 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?

(No, not on Easter. On the Sunday after Easter.)

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? How can small church pastors not know it? Can’t they 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.

  • We’ve been told that a small church is a failing church. And we don’t want to be a failure.
  • We’ve been told that if our church isn’t growing numerically, it’s missing God’s will. And we don’t want to miss God’s will.
  • We’ve been told that pastoring a small church is settling for less. And we don’t want to settle for less.

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 haven’t arrived yet. And we’re working very hard at arriving. Sometimes with harmful consequences, as I wrote about in When Church Growth Numbers Blind Us to Deeper Truths.

The Unavoidable Truth About Small Church Pastors

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

Ninety percent of pastors will never pastor a church of more than 200 people.

Ninety percent of pastors will never pastor a church of more than 200 people.

(I know, if you're pastoring 20 people, 200 seems huge, but 200 is the universally acknowledged dividing line between small and mid-sized church, because that's when a lot of things change about how we do church. For more about this, check out my next post, When 200 Feels Huge: Five Reasons Churches of 200 Are Considered Small.)

Whether we like it or not, whether we believe it or not, ninety percent of us are small church pastors.

That’s why I put my picture in today's post for the first, and probably last time. That photo is not about me. There’s a reason why the nametag 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 sentence out loud. I mean it. This matters.

“Hi, I’m (insert your name here) and I’m a small church pastor.”

Doesn’t that feel good?

There’s something about stating the truth that helps us know the truth.

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.

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The views of the blogger do not necessarily reflect those of Christianity Today.

September 25, 2015 at 10:54 AM

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