Small church pastors are some of the hardest-working, most passionate and sacrificial people anywhere.
They serve without fanfare, helping in ways most people will never see. And they face challenges that many will never experience.
In over five years of writing, speaking and talking with thousands of small church pastors of virtually every denomination and background, I’ve noticed there are three challenges that tend to pop up for them (us) on a regular basis.
Discouragement is unquestionably the most widespread burden faced by small church pastors — and usually the most debilitating.
I would estimate that more small church pastors have left the ministry before their time due to overwhelming discouragement than any other reason — maybe more than all other reasons combined.
It comes from a combination of factors, but most of all from feelings of failure for not hitting the goals for numerical increase that are set, either by others or by ourselves.
How To Help
Small church pastors need friendship and encouragement. Especially from their peers in pastoral ministry.
If you’re a local pastor, call up a small church pastor and offer to buy them a cup of coffee or lunch. Then listen to them, encourage them, and learn from them.
But, whatever you do, don’t tell them what you think they’ve been doing wrong, or offer to “fix” their church. We’ve heard and tried all the ideas, advice and “sure things” already. We need encouragement more than another surefire 5-step church growth program.
Just be there for a hurting fellow pastor. Then follow up later to say “hi” again.
You may find a lot of resistance at first. Most small church pastors have been burned by promises of helpful friendship before, so there’s a lot of mistrust.
But keep at it. They’ll be grateful, you’ll be blessed, and the kingdom of God will be advanced.
2. Lack of Resources
The financial needs of small churches are usually very obvious. What’s not as obvious, but just as challenging, is the lack of ideas, methods and curriculum designed with the small church in mind.
Most of what’s out there is coming from a big- or megachurch context. But most of what’s designed in a megachurch simply doesn’t translate to an average size church.