Hey Pastor, why is your church so small? Have you ever been asked that question by anyone? Probably not. There has probably never been anyone actually come right out and ask you why your church is so small. Well, maybe one person…
There is actually one person, right, who has asked you that question? Likely you get it more often than you care to, and each time you hear it asked, in your heart, you shrink just a little more.
You really don’t know the answer, and you wish the question would just stop coming. But no, there it is again – Hey, Pastor, why is your church so small?! You know who it is that asks you that. Over and over, they keep asking. What is wrong with them?! Why don’t they let it die?
You know who asks it… look in the mirror… there they are!! There is that person who keeps bringing it up again and again. Yeah. It’s YOU!
C’mon now, do you really think that Jesus laid awake at night asking himself why so few people followed him around? Why so few committed to being his disciples? I mean, he was even God!
I think that when we ask that question: Why is my church so small? we are really focusing on the wrong thing. Our values get temporarily screwed up.
It’s not about how many people pour into our church on Sunday, it’s about how much of ourselves we pour into others Monday through Saturday! It’s not about the Sunday crowd, it’s about the daily individuals.
Jesus has taught us that he shows up through the homeless, the sick, the imprisoned, the hungry, the thirsty, and the oppressed. He shows up in the orphan and the widow, the lonely and the addict. We get to love Jesus and live Kingdom lives when we reach out and pour ourselves into the least of these in our communities.
That right there my friends is our challenge. Let’s worry about how much of ourselves we pour into the least of these. The hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the sick, and the imprisoned. How much of ourselves do we pour into the sheep we also already have in our church?
It’s not about how many people pour into our church building? How much do we pour ourselves out during the week?
I know – we just talked about the burned out pastors, the stressed and the depressed. How can we now ask you to pour yourself out?
Well, that’s just it. If you aren’t caring for yourself, you simply cannot pour out the overflow of Jesus in you – into the lives of others. And, we need to.
Care for yourself. Get your rest, your exercise, and your prayer time. Be full of the Spirit of Jesus. Give, lead, and serve – out of the overflow of the Spirit’s abundance in you.
C’mon now, don’t worry about how many people come this weekend. Pay attention to how many people we serve during the week.
Trust the LORD who builds his church, the LORD of the harvest, with how many show up. Let’s us just work on caring for the people we have – pouring ourselves into them. Then when we’ve properly and lovingly cared for the people already in our care, God will give us more.
P.S. Stop asking yourself why your church is so small! Love people. That’s all.
If you haven’t already:
What a wonderful, hope-filled conversation with a very good friend of small church pastors! Pastor Mike Ferguson, aka Dr. Mike Ferguson, is truly a pastor to pastors, who also has the education and credentials of an experienced psychologist.
While Mike has been a part of the AOG (Assembly of God) Churches for so many years - his heart for pastors knows no denominational boundaries. His heart is to help pastors who are battling a mental health crisis. Because Mike's story is also about battling a mental health crisis.
His passion is to remove the stigma, embarrassment, and shame from anyone who struggles with their mental health. Dr. Mike brings a message of hope and healing.
His passion is not only to equip pastors, but church leaders and lay leaders at every level. He wants to help churches become places that are friendly to those who experience mental health challenges.
My own wife has battled a huge mental health challenge - and by close association (one flesh!) so have I. I (Jeff) have watched her suffer, not knowing why her brain would not align with her heart, wondering when the worry, the anxiety, and the sleeplessness would go away. Years ago, in ignorance, I would encourage her to just "think positive". We both learned the hard way, but we learned.
I wish we had a person like Dr. Mike Ferguson in our lives at the time. Well, starting today YOU have a person like Dr. Ferguson in your life - in fact, Dr. Ferguson himself! He is available to you, and you can find him at DrMikeFerguson.com.
Mike is also a suicidologist - so if you are struggling to that extent, or know someone who is, then Dr. Ferguson can also help you.
We hope you enjoy this longer, hope-filled episode! Find Mike on the web in the links below.
I stepped out of my office this morning on a mission. T-Minus 15 minutes and counting, until the service would start. I needed to print the final revision of my message notes.
“Pastor Jeff, I never got a stuffed animal.”
There were several girls sitting outside the office in the overstuffed loveseat in the back lobby. This one had wide, somewhat pleading eyes. Susie clearly wanted attention, which was new. She was a quiet, shy, seven year old who until then had never spoken to me.
You see, I have this practice. I’m not sure when I started it, but it’s been years.
Kohl’s has stuffed animals for sale near their checkout areas for $5 each. Sometimes they are “people” like Charlie Brown or PigPen, other times Disney, Dr. Suess, or other notable characters. So I buy a couple every time I go and stock them in my office. I let children come in and pick a stuffed animal from my caché.
I’ve given stuffed animals to boys as old as ten, or to toddlers as young as two. But every kid can get one from me. So far I’ve been able to limit it to just one. Sometimes months will go by between opportunities, but it’s always a highlight for me to give a stuffed animal to a kid in my church.
When I give a stuffed animal to a kid, I tell them things like:
So when Susie said to me this morning, “Pastor Jeff, I never got a stuffed animal,” I stopped dead in my tracks, (somewhat shocked that she had actually spoken to me!) invited her in to look at the collection, and let her pick out the little dog from 101 Dalmatians, whose name escapes me at the moment.
We had a short conversation, but SUSIE TALKED TO ME! We made a connection, and she walked out happy with her doggie. Her dad told me on the phone that afternoon that she hadn’t put it down all day.
I’m a pastor so that I can help children develop an idea of what God is like.
God is happy. God loves them. God wants to know them. God likes to give them gifts. God is always there.
I try to show happiness to kids, and love them, and get to know them, and even give them a stuffed animal at least once. And, I believe that a long pastorate helps kids to know God better.
Susie’s words to me, expressed through wide, wondering eyes reminded me why I want to be a pastor, in the same church, for a long time.
The second conversation was after church. With a young mom. She was walking across the lobby, and when I reached out to her to say hello I saw the tears in her eyes. “Oh, you’re crying… I’m sorry,” I said. “I know, I probably need to talk with you. Could we maybe talk right now, maybe in your office?” she replied.
Well, of course.
We spent about fifteen minutes as I listened to her fears and concerns. She was uncertain, confused, discouraged, and maybe just wanted to quit on this whole “God and the Bible” thing. What should she believe anyway? It was all so confusing.
My heart went out to her as I realized that she was in the same place my wife has been, and I have been. She was deconstructing much of what she was taught as a child, and the theological reconstruction in her heart was very hard, very confusing at times, and quite unsettling.
I encouraged her to talk with both my wife and I about this – “this is right down my wife’s alley!” I told her. She was happy to make an appointment to talk with us later this week.
I am seriously, severely, vehemently, and voraciously looking forward to it! J
This young mom reminded me why I wanted to be a pastor!
I want to help people make sense of the Scriptures, and of God the Father. I want them to know Jesus, and his love. I want them to walk in the Spirit. I want them to have the joy of the LORD even in the midst of life’s inevitable crises, burdens, and trials.
I want people to be freed from their burdens!
The Pharisees placed huge burdens on peoples’ backs and did not lift a finger to help them carry the load. I don’t want to do that. With the Gospel of Jesus, we can remove her burdens, and lighten her load.
Jesus’ yoke is easy, and his burden is light. Yeah. What Jesus said! I like it.
One young girl. One young mom. Thanks to both of them, I am reminded again, and happy again, to be a pastor at my church.
Two conversations that remind me the Kingdom of God is for people today, and I get to declare it to them, and share it with them.
Why do you want to be a pastor? Share what fires your pastoral heart in the comments section below…
Ever have a whole list of Scripture references and wish the texts were with them? Here is a great tip for retrieving all the biblical text from multiple Scripture references instantly!
A short Friday video tutorial just for you!
Today, on episode 105, our guest is Sam Prellwitz, Discipleship Pastor at Ripon Community Church in Ripon, Wisconsin. Jonny and Sam met at Bethel Seminary and are good friends who support each other in ministry.
Sam is a young pastor who has successfully served at his church through a staff transition from youth pastor to discipleship pastor. Sam shares his story, how he and his senior pastor led the change in their staff, as well as effectively leading other programmatic changes in their church as well.
Sam talks about the importance of communicating with one "staff voice", the benefits of testing the waters before going public, cheerleading change, and much more. We know you will enjoy this episode and walk away with a good lesson or two to put into practice almost immediately.
If you have not subscribed to the blog yet, do so above, and get our free resource, Our 7 Favorite Ministry Resources as a PDF download, along with 7 short video introductions to the resources.
In the comments below this fantastic picture of Sam and his son, share one "can't do without" practice or principle that has helped you successfully lead a change in your 200church...
If I asked you a question parallel to the title of this post, what would you answer? If I asked, “What is the work of the pastor, admin or people? – circle one!” I bet I know what you would say. You would say…
Yeah, we both know.
But, if you didn’t:
So, again I ask: What is the work of the pastor? Admin or People?
That’s right! PEOPLE!
I tricked you didn’t I? :-)
WHY I GOT INTO MINISTRY IN THE FIRST PLACE!
On Saturday I headed out of my garage to meet a church member for lunch. This person is going through the ringer with a situation in their life. I was going to personally and eagerly contribute two hours of my time to just talk with them, care for them, and love them. As I pulled out of my driveway I said to myself, “Yeah, this is why I got into ministry in the first place! To help people!”
Today my wife and I had lunch after the morning service with a new couple in our church. We got to know their story. Our hearts went out to them as they shared some struggles. We rejoiced on the inside as they shared blessings they’ve received from the people in our church. Yup! That’s why we got into ministry in the first place – to be a part of creating a church that cared for and loved new people!
Tonight I stood next to Jonny as he watched his beloved Green Bay Packers go down in flames, and I thought… Oh wait, that’s an illustration for another blog post! Sorry.
Now, where was I? Oh yeah, tonight I was in the Fellowship Hall with Jonny and a number of our members who had just helped feed 60 college students. I heard Jonny expressing praise and gratitude to a volunteer who did a phenomenal job working with children this past week. I watched this man smile and say that he had to learn how to work with that age group of kids. I know he walked out of the church building a little lighter tonight, and a little more confident that he was appreciated.
On Thursday I got the joy of an email exchange with one of our podcast listeners who wrote this in a review of the 200churches Podcast: “I love this podcast! Thank you for taking the time to encourage small church pastors. As a pastor of a church plant, this podcast is a constant encouragement to me. Keep up the great work!”
Yeah, this is why we do the podcast, to encourage pastors! Do I love some of the tech tasks involved? Yes. But why? Because they allow Jonny and I to give hundreds and hundreds of pastors a fresh dose of weekly encouragement!
This is why we got into ministry in the first place! As Dickie V would say – “For PEOPLE babeeee!!” Yes, for people. Because it was for people that Jesus died. It was people he served. It was people that he loved. And it is people in whom he is pouring his Spirit.
Admin? Yeah, it has only one purpose – to help us do work with people! That’s it! Admin is never for the sake of admin. No way! Administrative tasks are always for the purpose of taking care of people better!
Our Financial Secretary inputs, organizes, and reports on – figures. Numbers. Money. She has minimal interaction with people in her job.
But I tell her this often: “What you do allows all of our church family to give to the LORD with joy, freedom, and abandon! Our people can give generously, without ever a second thought about how the money will be handled or managed! You free our peoples’ hearts to give to the LORD! You create freedom!”
Admin is for people! If you or I are doing administrative tasks simply because we like to be organized – I really don’t think that is a good enough reason. Only if our organization helps us to better love and serve people.
How can you leverage your organizational and administrative acumen to better love and serve people? Sure, you can chew on that thought today - go ahead!
Happy Monday Pastors! Jonny and I hope that you have a wonderful week loving and serving God, by loving and serving people.
This week’s podcast is about transitions! Episode 105 is just for you if you are involved in making any kind of transitions in your church right now. We will talk about leadership, process, and, of course, people. That’s this Wednesday, on the 200churches Podcast!
Can't wait until Wednesday to listen to another episode? Below is a great episode from the archives with Leadership Guru Dan Reiland on training and mentoring leaders!
Are You Challenged By the Toxic People In Your Church?
Jeff and Jonny know all about toxic people, and likely as a small church pastor, so do you.
If we are going to be Kingdom pastors, we need to understand how to deal with toxic people. Too many times pastors let a problem person poison the well of the church for far too long, hurting innocent people who simply need help.
Episode 104 features Small Church Pastor Coach Dave Jacobs! Yes, he's back!
Dave is the pastors' friend from SmallChurchPastor.com. He wants to help and encourage you.
Dave coaches pastors and church boards, and he is sharing some ministry wisdom right here on the 200churches Podcast just for you! We hope you enjoy this full episode of ministry fun, challenge, and encouragement!
Pastor, Are You Properly Caring For Your Soul?
After working exclusively with pastors for eight years, coaching them on ministry and church health, Dave has written a book to help pastors manage their soul care.
Dave's book, Mile Wide, Inch Deep: Experiencing God Beyond the Shallows, Soul Care for Busy Pastors and the Rest of us is a must read for a small church pastor. This book will help you walk through your interactions with toxic people with grace and courage.
If you have been in the ministry for more than two years, this book is for you!
Finally, would you help us by leaving us an iTunes ratings and review? Here's how to do it... it's a cinch!
Jeff and Jonny put together their 7 Favorite Ministry Resources as a free gift to new subscribers of 200churches.com. This is a great quick resource for small church pastors. Some of these resources you may already use, but they're sure you'll find several that you haven't ever tried!
This PDF resource contains:
Have a fantastic weekend loving the people in your 200church!
**NEXT WEEK'S PODCAST: The return of the small church pastor coach - DAVE JACOBS! Dave can be found at SmallChurchPastor.com. That's next week on episode 104 of the 200churches Podcast!
John and Dianne Finkelde pastored in their church in Australia for 30 years! To say they have seen it all would be an understatement. When John transitioned out of his church three years ago, he began GrowAHealthyChurch.com.
John and Di consult with and coach pastors and pastors' wives, as well as church leadership at every level. They do onsite consults, online consults, Skype pastoral coaching, etc. You can check out their site at www.growahealthychurch.com, where you can find some free resources and everything else they offer.
Jonny and Jeff caught up with John early this week and talked to him about life and ministry. With his Aussie accent, he is a delight to listen to, but a blast to learn from! He gives some very practical and important content that any pastor at any level can put into practice this week!
In this episode John talks with the guys at some length, giving very practical coaching on four issues : visitors to your church, how to handle the issue of finances/giving, how to evaluate your ministry at every level, and managing yourself as pastor for long term sustainability.
DOUG'S BACK TO COLLEGE, AND JEFF & JONNY ARE BACK IN THE STUDIO!
With Jeff's son Douglas back at college, (which was a miracle of God and thank you for praying!) Jeff and Jonny are back in the luxurious and opulent 200churches Podcast Studio this week - recording three episodes in this first week of the year. They are moving and grooving with plans already in motion to upgrade the studio and expand what they offer to pastors of small churches this year.
They wrote last Friday that their two main goals are to reach more small church pastors, and serve and encourage them even better this year. Let this first episode of the year be an indication of the quality you can expect every single week, Lord willing of course, in 2015!
Enjoy this episode, as our gift of encouragement to you! As you pastor your church, we salute you as a man or woman of God, called to love and serve him by shepherding, feeding, and leading his Flock. Jesus died for them, and you live to love and serve them. May God bless you, your walk with him, your family, and your church ministry this year!
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