A pastor, of course, must do many things to prepare to lead people weekly in worship. But before I attend to technical matters, I've learned to attend to spiritual concerns.
I was twenty-two when I took my first pastorate, a small congregation in Fort Wayne, Indiana. At best we averaged 47 people in worship.
We had one rough stretch. As some members moved and others went away for the summer, our average attendance over a five-month stretch dropped steadily, from 47, to 44, to 33, to 22, and finally, by the middle of August, to 11.
One Sunday morning only 8 people showed up. When my family came back for the evening service, nobody showed. No one.
I sat discouraged in the front row next to Anna, my wife, and our baby, who was lying in a bassinet.
I had already felt defeated after the morning service, but now I felt simply awful. What in the world am I doing here? I thought. If we had had enough money, I would have packed my family in the car and left town. But we didn't.