There are a lot of misunderstandings about small churches and the people who pastor them.
- That we’re a problem to be fixed
- That we could be bigger if we’d just follow the latest 8-step church growth plan
- That we can only do good ministry when we hit a certain critical mass
- and so on
But, without question, the biggest misunderstanding I regularly hear about small churches and the people who pastor them is this:
Too many people (especially fellow pastors) think that small church pastors aren’t interested in church growth. That we’ve given up on reaching new people. That we’ve decided to stay small out of fear, comfort, lack of passion or something equally petty.
This misunderstanding often comes out in unintentionally condescending statements like “it’s okay if you want your church to stay small and minister to a handful of people, but I want to reach the world for Jesus, so I want my church to grow!”
Well, so do we! Small church pastors want to reach the world for Jesus, too! We want our church to grow! We’re not small church pastors because we have a limited vision, but because the best contributions we can make to the growth of Christ’s kingdom happen to be within a smaller setting.
Small Finds Us
Very few small church pastors start out with the realization that our best contribution to ministry and to the kingdom of God will be within a smaller setting.
We almost never come to that conclusion on our own. And I’ve never seen it come out of a desire to settle for less.
Instead, it usually happens after years of frustration from trying but failing to implement scalable church growth strategies that don’t work for us or the church we pastor.
Eventually, we stumble across the realization that our unique mix of gifts, calling, skills and personality lends itself to serving more effectively in a small environment than a big one.
Doing Small Well
We didn’t choose small. Small chose us. (Or God chose small for us.)
We’re not staying small intentionally, we’re doing small strategically.
We’re not reaching fewer people (per capita) than a big church, we’re reaching different people than the big church.
We’re not narrow-minded, we’re tightly focused.
We’re not organizationally scalable, we’re relationally adaptable.
We’re not massive combines, harvesting swaths of wheat in the middle of the field, we’re gleaners, digging into the corners to find those that others might have missed.
We’re not giving up on bigger ministry, we’re discovering how to do our best ministry.
We’re not settling for less. In fact, we’re not settling at all. And we’re not less than anyone.
We’ve found our role in Christ’s church and we’re doing it with all our heart.
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