This week on episode 107, Karl Vaters said that there is a very definite step to take to become a healthy small church – which sure beats closing your church! That step is this: Stop assuming that smallness is a problem to be fixed!
For many pastors, and perhaps for you, this is not as easy as it looks. Success and growth are baked into our culture, and tradition and habit die hard! Can I offer a few suggestions to help you stop believing that a small church is a problem to be fixed?
A New Perspective On Your Small Church
First, take out a blank sheet of paper and hand write the first and last names of every person, both members and attenders, in your small church. Write them ALL down. (What, you can’t remember them all? Then your church is not that small!)
Second, take a look at the list, and jot just two words down next to each name, two words that remind you of a memory or interaction you’ve had with them.
For instance, near Tom’s name, I would write: “little” and “trust”. I’m the only pastor he has ever known. I’ve known him since he was very little. I have developed an enormous amount of trust with him. When Tom ran into some serious problems as a teenager, I was able to step right into that place of trust and relationship and have a real ministry to him.
That’s just one name. That’s one person who needs a pastor. Am I too good to be his pastor? Hmmm…
Third, divide the names into two columns. The first column would be the ones with whom you interact on a somewhat regular basis. You have a good ministry in their lives because of your relationship with them.
The second column would be people that you know you need to connect with more. You need to spend a little more time with them. These are the ones who need more development, more ministry.
So now you have a bunch of first and last names. Real people. I’m curious, which column has more names in it?
Have you done really well building a good relationship of love and trust with a majority of the people who attend your church? Or does the second column have more names? You’ve still got work to do?
Are these people a problem to be fixed? When you think “small church” you can think negatively of it. But when you look at a list of twenty, thirty, or sixty people – you realize you have that many opportunities to build the Kingdom of God.
So many times I’ve driven by my church building and thought – “hey, these people need a pastor too, am I too good to be their pastor?”
Am I too important, too smart, too spiritual, too high and mighty to be their pastor, because they are such a small church?
We all know the answers to those questions. A small church is not a problem to be fixed. Rather, a group of people to be loved.
NEXT WEEK: On episode 108, Jonny and I take a deep dive into the answer to this question: “Just what exactly defines health in a church?” We talked with Karl about working to build a healthy small church – but what does that mean? Blah blah blah? Or does health + church really mean something.
That’s next week: Episode 108 - A Deep Dive Into the Fundamentals of a Healthy Church.
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