The typical church has about 75 attendees every week.
So if you pastor a small congregation, your church isn’t broken, it’s what’s known as normal. And normal doesn’t need to be fixed.
But for the most part, the books, conferences and classes about pastoring tend to concentrate on big church principles, or on how to help the smaller churches become bigger.
That’s not a bad thing, in fact it’s expected, since we all want to learn from those with growing ministries.
But when those are our only sources, we can miss a valuable aspect of church life – the vibrant, healthy small church.
(This article was originally written for, and was published at FocusontheFamily.com)
Understanding The Small Church
Small churches have needs, blessings and opportunities that are specific to their smaller size. And since they are by far the most typical church, it’s important for pastors and church leaders to understand small churches better so we can serve them, the pastors who lead them, and the people in them with greater effectiveness.
I have been a small church pastor for over 30 years. And in the last several years I’ve had the opportunity to spend a lot of time writing for, speaking to and having conversations with thousands of my fellow small church pastors. They represent congregations in every state, dozens of countries and almost every denomination – and non-denomination.
In that time I’ve discovered three specific areas about small churches that every church leader needs to be aware of.
Biggest Need: Encouragement
Small churches, and especially small church pastors, labor under a great deal of discouragement.
They face a constant shortage of resources, ideas, facilities, finances, people, time, you name it. If you pastor a small church, it may seem like your ministry is practically defined by being in a constant state of need.
But what may be even worse than the shortage of supplies is the shortage of encouragement. Small church pastors often feel ignored or belittled when their situation is either overlooked or condescended to by the very people they go to for help, such as fellow pastors, church consultants, and denominational leaders.
When you add all that up, it’s not a surprise that so many small church pastors leave the ministry every year. What’s really amazing is that most of them keep moving faithfully along.