Most of the time small churches have bi-vocational pastors. I once had a guy tell me that one day I will grow in my faith enough to quit my job and be a full time pastor. What I found out later is faith didn’t allow him to quit his job, but that his wife was supporting him. We are partners together so my wife and I pitch in equally, but his solution will not work for my family. God may call me to full time pastorate, but until then I will work 50 – 60 hours per week, drive back and forth for an hour and a half, enjoy my 4 kids, raise some farm animals, help my wife with the food pantry she runs, and give the church everything I can. Sometimes that is enough, but sometimes I walk away feeling like I failed the church.
I don’t hear it at my home church much, but I have heard several people say that they don’t feel fed in their home church. This seems to be the number one excuse for leaving a church. Now there are reasons for leaving churches. Impropriety in the leadership, false doctrines, or God leading you away is a few reasons to leave a church. I have found that the excuse that they are not fed has little to do with the church.
In the past 5 years, the church I pastor has seen some modest growth. We have a few people that have rededicated their life to Christ, while another family has deepened their walk with God. I noticed something about each of these; it wasn’t the pulpit that put their lives or homes in order. Oh, maybe some encouragement, or a place to meet, or something said may have challenged them, but each of them had something else in common. Each of them went home, opened their Bibles, Studied, prayed, and when they came to church they brought with them the excitement of what they picked up on at home. The church is an extension of the home. The church is now stronger because these three homes became spiritually healthy.
You see, as pastors we need to be careful to give the church everything we can. We don’t give what is left, but we give the best we have. Remember, our relationship with God comes first, then our family, and next comes the church. Our responsibility to feed the flock is great, and prioritizing our lives commitments will help, but it is the responsibility of each member to graze on the word and prayer daily.
One of the greatest detriments to future success is perceived or real failure. When someone leaves the church because, ‘they are not fed’ the pastor feels the weight. There are 66 books compiled and made available to all. If you want to be fed then belly up to the table and partake. Then bring the excitement of what you have gained back into the church. Then if the church doesn’t respond favorably to the growth in your life then it is time to move on. Not because you are not fed, but because the church is not open to growth.