If you are reading about the status of the church in America you probably have read some pretty depressing news. I have both good and bad news; I will give you the bad news first; there is plenty of bad news. But there is good news; you don’t have to become a part of the bad news.
Refuse to settle, to cope or “just get by.” Rise again with hope, faith and zeal. It’s hard. We have all felt the despair to the point of “giving up.” The problem has always been, we don’t know where to go when we “give up.”
We have always wished there was encouragement for small church pastors that wasn’t coming from a glossy magazine and a “large church” pastor. “I appreciate the concern but when you use ministry words in your large church they mean totally something else in the small church.” What works for 1000, 500 or even 200 doesn’t necessarily fit the small church.
But there are some areas of ministry that will work in the small church. Read the list below. There may be more or maybe, a couple items need to be deleted. This list may need to be refined and tailor made for your location and, as always, feel free to add your ideas in the comments below.
FIND OUT WHAT MAKES YOUR CHURCH UNIQUE IN THE COMMUNITY
In the small church it is absolutely essential to discover the history to know the future; if it is good, major on it. If it is bad, recreate it. Find out what makes your church click or better yet, what is the one thing you do or could do making your church unique in your community.
Go down to the local coffee shop and see what the locals are talking about.
Ask your church to brainstorm and find your brand or uniqueness.
Find a need in the community and begin to meet the need through your church.
REACH OUT TO THE CIRCLES WITHIN YOUR COMMUNITY
Everybody in the local church knows somebody but not everybody is inviting everybody they know. Here is a suggestion, have everyone in your church write down three family members living in the area that don’t go to church and invite them to your next church service and church dinner. Why church dinner? Because it gives your guest a reason to stay and fellowship. (Make sure they don’t sit at a table by themselves).
The next service recognize the members who brought the visitors. Take your time and do it sincerely – this is a phenomenal moment for your church and will cause other members to invite visitors. The big church calls it “creating the invite culture.”
SOME CHURCHES RECOGNIZE THE VISITORS
BUT WHY NOT RECOGNIZE THE MEMBERS WHO BROUGHT THE VISITORS.
The next month you are getting ready for a church supper invite the same ones again. After a few months you can have the members invite neighbors, community people or their work acquaintances. Keep expanding the circle and keep acknowledging the church members – it may take six months before you see any results but keep at it.
PREACH TO THOSE WHO LOVE YOU
Disgruntled members can drag a pastor and his message to the ground but great advice came from a friend, a few years ago, during the roughest time of our ministry. “Find those who love you and preach to them.” It totally changed the atmosphere of the worship service and changed the preaching style. Don’t watch the angry faces of the “mob” but preach to the glowing faces of those who stand with you.
You can’t control the mob but you can control your attitude. Find a happy place in the congregation and preach the Word. The pulpit is not a place to air dirty laundry or vent frustration with the board. The sacred desk is the grounds on which God anoints His word. Preach the Word.
RESPECT EVERYONE SINCERELY
No matter where you are in ministry, five months or 35 years, respect is the greatest characteristic a pastor can possess. “You may disrespect me but I will not disrespect you.” The respect you give to others will follow your ministry for many years.
INVEST IN THE ONE THING THAT BRINGS THE BEST RESULTS
Look at your ministry and begin to focus on the one thing that brings you the most fruit. Evaluate your calendar and rearrange your schedule to adopt more time into that one thing. Invest in that one thing. Begin to sow seeds into that one thing.
A field of flowers takes months before the first blossom blooms and ministry planted in the right field will, in its time, bring the fruit you were hoping to bear. There are no silver bullets in ministry but there are seeds that need to be sown in the right field.
SPEND TIME ALONE WITH GOD
This can never be stressed enough but your prayer life is the stage upon your ministry will stand or fall. Pastors need personal prayer to energize their public ministry. When no one understands how you feel – Jesus does.
Set a definite time.
Set a definite place.
Set a definite devotional.
Set a definite heart upon Jesus.
Maybe it is a good time to slip into the church auditorium, bow your head before a holy God and cry out for strength, anointing, vision and life. Oftentimes, a short time spent alone with God will be the encouragement you needed. Let Him hear your voice, let Him hear your heart beat, let Him hear your innermost needs.
SPEND TIME WITH YOUR WIFE
Rarely will a small church pastor feel he has the time or the money to treat his wife like he wants to treat her. You’re thinking steak dinner, night out, overnight stay, a cruise or an elaborate vacation. Spending time with your wife can be a walk around the neighborhood. Grilling out on the patio. Visiting with some nearby friends. Or drinking a cup of coffee together in the morning.
If you were to resign and leave your church you will not measure the days you wished you had spent more time working in the church but you will evaluate each day you wished you had spent more time with your wife.
YOUR WIFE IS YOUR MINISTRY
Tell her how you feel, let her know your heart is with her, tell her she is special to you. Tell her she is an integral part of your ministry and you need her alongside you. If you plan to change your ministry this week changing your marriage attitude would be the starting point.
Copyright by Jim Laudell. Materials may not be copied, reproduced or distributed without the written permission from the author. You may share on Facebook, Twitter, and other forms of social media while giving credit to the author. This post should not be construed as medical, legal or counseling.