A church of 50 people needs to be pastored like a church of 50 people.
You can’t act like a church of 500. Or even 100. The systems, methods and relationship dynamics simply won’t fit.
So how can a church grow, either in its size or effectiveness, if we’re only pastoring the people we have?
While pastoring the people we have, we need to create in-house systems and outward ministry suitable for a church of double our current size.
Training A Team
Recently I had the privilege of talking to a pastor who has only been in his current church for a short time. The church went through years of difficulty before he arrived and there are just a few folks left. All of them are older than the pastor, who is in his 60s.
Here’s how he’s pastoring that handful of people, while creating opportunities to minister to more.
During the week, the pastor spends almost no time in the office. Instead, he heads out to local coffee shops, stores, community centers and so on. He’s getting to know the folks in his small town. He does it alone because the members of his church are too elderly to do it with him.
But that doesn’t mean the church members are inactive. Every Sunday, the nursery and kids’ rooms are set up and sanitized. The volunteer seniors show up early and put out signup sheets. A rotating group of senior saints wait in those rooms from at least 15 minutes before the service starts until about 15 minutes after it starts. If no kids show up (which, so far, none have) they head into the service.
It’s too early to give you any results of their work yet, but this is a great example of ministering to the people you have while preparing systems and outreach to double your effectiveness and outreach.
Loosen The Lid On Ministry Capacity
One of the main reasons pastors get burned out is because, instead of following the what I like to call the Pastoral Prime Mandate to work with other leaders and equip the saints (Eph 4:11-12), we try to do most or all the ministry for the church.
When the pastor is trying to do all the ministry for everyone, we hit our capacity for effective ministry far too quickly. No matter how small the church is.
But when we’re pastoring the people we have by equipping them for ministry, our lid lifts.
Even if the church doesn’t grow from 50 to 100, having outreach and systems for 100 will serve the 50 better and give the pastor some margin. Church leaders will have more time to study, pray, rest and re-energize. And the ministry we do will be more effective as a result.