Too many small church pastors are doing most, maybe all, of their ministry alone.
They wonder if anyone outside the church even knows or cares that they exist.
That isolation can become toxic. And it can start to bleed out into their congregations, confirming the worst stereotypes about why small churches remain small.
On top of that, when we look for help, we often find more frustration than encouragement – as we discussed in my last post, 5 Things You Should Never Say To A Small Church Pastor.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. If we took just a little time and energy to reach out, we could help reverse this trend.
So what can we say to help encourage the small church pastors in our lives? Or even bring them into our lives so we can encourage them?
In my experience, these 5 expressions of support would go a long way. Whether they come from a denominational official, a fellow pastor or a church member.
1. “A Small Church Can Be A Great Church”
I’m in favor of church growth. I rejoice every time I see it.
But most churches stop growing after they reach certain plateaus. Even when church growth principles are applied, most small churches stay small.
What if, instead of insisting that a church must get bigger to prove its value, we found out what’s great about small church ministry, then encouraged, supported and resourced it?
After all, we don’t need big, or even growing numbers to do God’s will. The New Testament does not have a single command for the church that can’t be fulfilled by three people working together under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
Let’s remind ourselves of that, and encourage churches that are doing it – no matter how big or small they are.
2. “I’m Praying For You”
A Facebook comment.
It takes so little to remind a fellow small church pastor that you remember them and are asking God to bless them.
3. “Can I Take You Out To Lunch?”
So many small church pastors feel alone and abandoned.
Often by their own denominations, fellow pastors and even their church members.
Nothing says “you’re not alone” like an invitation to lunch from someone who cares.
Sharing a meal with a small church pastor with no agenda other than to let them know you care can bless a pastor and impact a church’s ministry more than you may ever know.
4. “How Can I Help?”
Most small churches suffer from an astonishing lack of resources. Both material and human.
If your church has staff members who can preach, offer free pulpit fill-in, so a local small church pastor can have a much-needed Sunday off.
Do you have rotating musicians? Offer them to a local church on special Sundays. Done with your Sunday School or VBS material? Make them available to needy churches.
There are so many resources that big churches take for granted – even toss away – that could make a huge difference to the budget and the ministry opportunities of many small churches near you.
5. “What Can I Learn From You?”
I’ve learned a lot from pastors of big churches.
But ministry wisdom doesn’t just flow from the big to the small.
We can also learn something from the experiences and even the struggles of small church pastors. I know, because I learn from them almost daily.
How? By listening. By asking them to tell me their stories. And by not trying to fix what might not even be broken.
Why This Matters
Many small church pastors have been yelling “yes!” as they’ve been reading this list. Unfortunately, many have also been thinking “I’ve never had anyone say that to me. Not once.”
Everyone needs encouragement. Especially when all our study, hard work and prayer doesn’t seem to be bearing the promised results.
It’s time to reach out beyond our own concerns and care for some of the hardest-working ministers in the world. The faithful, but hurting pastors of small churches.
It doesn’t take much.
Reaching even one pastor with just one of these statements might save a ministry – and heal a minister’s heart.
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