How Not to Serve in a Small Church

In a world of megachurches, it’s easy to feel insignificant in a small church. And I have no qualms about my calling to a small church… small is good! It’s more intimate, more personal. But it can be (or at least appear) more challenging. In the 18 months I have been a pastor at Fairforest Baptist Church, I have learned some attitudes to avoid and things not to do. Here are some of them:

1) Believe the Lie that God Can’t Use Your Church

The Problem

I meet people all the time that pastor at churches bigger than mine. Those churches usually have more resources. They usually have more staff. It’s incredibly easy to get jealous, and then feel like a bad Christian and bad pastor for not being content where He has called you.

It’s really easy to hear about people getting saved in megachurches by the thousands every week and wonder “why can’t I make a difference like that?” And soon, you believe start to believe that the impact you make is nothing compared to the ones made by others around you.

The Solution

“Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” Luke 15:10, ESV

While I imagine God and the angels are thrilled when many receive Christ at megachurches, Jesus makes it clear that they also rejoice over just one.

This is the whole point of Luke 15. Jesus tells three parables, and in each one, God shows His heart for the lost, pursuing them by his relentless love.

And if God uses your church to save just one sinner, you should rejoice as well.

2) Take it Personally When People Don’t Come

The Problem

This is the hardest one for me. And it makes sense, from one standpoint. People should go to church. Believers suffer when disconnected from the body of Christ. I want people to go to any church and be in fellowship and worship with others.

But when I’m honest, I want people to come to my church.

And when they don’t, I think it’s because of something I’ve done. Or maybe that I’m not good enough. Or maybe my song selection is terrible. Or maybe people think I’m weird (disclaimer: I am weird.)

The Solution

First of all, when did it become my church? Yes, in the sense that God called me to serve there, it is my church. But before any of that, the church belongs to Christ as His bride.

When I see the big picture, I recognize that the church is the whole of God’s people rather than just my individual part in it.

You are only responsible to be faithful to my calling. Rather than be offended when people don’t come, why not thank God for those He has given you to minister to?

3) Get Stuck in Your Office

The Problem

Over the last 18 months, I have had way more responsibilities than just youth and worship ministry. I have been the church administrator. The copier repair guy. The technology expert. (I never should have told anyone I know anything about computers)

There’s a lot to do and it’s easy to get stuck in your office and “fix” stuff. And while that is important, it’s easy to get bogged down with the administrative side of the job.

And soon, you’re not a pastor except when people are in the church building.

The Solution

What if I stepped out of the church walls and met people where they are?

What if I took discipleship seriously and personally discipled someone else?

When I really stop and think about my role as a pastor, I should be more worried about getting myself outside the church walls than I am about getting other people inside them.

I want to be a pastor everywhere I go, not just on Sunday mornings.

After all, it was no accident that Jesus said “Go into all the world.”

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