There is a line by Tevye in the musical “Fiddler on the Roof,” that says, “It’s no great shame to be poor, but it’s no great honor either.” Being a pastor of a small church I sometimes want to say, “It’s no great shame being a pastor of a small church, but it’s no great honor either.”
Truth is; it is a great honor to be a pastor of a small church, but sometimes I don’t feel it. There are many struggles that people going to a small church experience. Sometimes we feel like a small church is the best church. I mean, we have accountability and sometimes opportunities that a large church doesn’t have. As a bi-vocational pastor (which is a kind way of saying I pastor on a volunteer basis) I can preach what I feel God is directing me to preach without fear of losing my job. There are certain freedoms that come with that.
At the risk of being wishy washy or as the scripture would say, “double minded,” I would have to say more often than not I feel embarrassed at being the pastor of a small church. I was told one time that I must not be a very good pastor if the church is so small. That was over a decade ago, and I still remember it every time I look at the empty pews.
Yet, there are some people that come to the church because they do not enjoy large crowds. They may have never attended church if they couldn’t find a small group to meet with. This tells me there is a place and calling for small churches. So what is the answer; is it a blessing or should I be ashamed.
I have come to the conclusion that as long as I give people a reason to be a part of the church and I am faithful to the calling that God has put in my life then it is a blessing. I can tell you that in almost 15 years of being a pastor I have had periods that I did not give people a reason to be a part, or an excuse to be a part. I’m grateful to my small circle of influence for being patient with me and sticking in there.
So if you’re in a small church I would speak to you that there is no shame in it, as long as you are faithfully giving people a reason to be a part. If you’re a pastor I would ask if you are giving content and leadership that the church can be proud of. Have you built a team that the church can trust? Then there is a great honor in being a pastor of a small church.
Yours in Christ