Tuesday, March 15, 2022

A Small Church Isn't For Wimps


You know the band Newsboys? Their second album was entitled "Hell Is For Wimps." That was back in the day when they were borderline hair metal. I am confident that many current Newboys fans would not be a fan of their early days. 

That album title got me thinking a bit that not only is Hell for wimps but being a part of a church let alone pastoring a small church isn't for wimps either. Giving up on small churches is for wimps. Allow me to explain drawing off almost 17 years of pastoring a "small church". 

When people first attend a small church there is an infatuation of sorts. It is quaint, people are friendly and it has a general home feeling. As it goes though with a new pastor, new church, etc. there is a honeymoon phase where no wrong can be done. In a church setting the honeymoon phase includes unwavering volunteerism, giving, you tell all of your friends, etc. This phase can move on quickly and then reality sets in. 

With a small church comes lack of programming, worship that is not exactly what you are looking for (which is a theological discussion for another time) and other things that are offered in a larger church setting. 

The reality of a small church is that it will not be able to offer what larger churches have. Whenever a new program is proposed by the congregants of said smaller church it is usually with the expectancy that the lead pastor or his/her spouse will take it and run. This simply is not able to be done because pastors in a small (or big) church are pulled in so many directions already that to add another thing would make it very difficult. A responsible pastor will say no...they simply cannot do any more than what they are doing. If a person has an idea for a program, outreach, etc. then that person should more times than not be the one that runs with it.

So what is the tendency then at that point? Bail. This is where small churches remain small and bigger churches just keep getting bigger. That is until a person/family go to the bigger church and they find that they are not being accommodated so they move on to the next church. Really, it is easy to do because churches are a dime a dozen. This results in what I call boomerang Christians where eventually the person/people that left end up coming back only to start the process all over again. Inevitably they will find a pastor that doesn't listen to them, worship that doesn't measure up to their standard (sometimes horribly skewed by poor theology) or lack of other programming as it pertains to different ages.

In a small church setting it is best that if you are going to attend...don't come in with guns blazing. You may have a gift in worship but you are not God's gift to worship. There might be a good curriculum that you would like to see implemented but understand if it adds more work then it probably won't happen until more people step up. If the pastor is not political enough, hell fire and brimston"ish" enough so you leave to watch someone online, etc. I just feel sorry for that person because there is something beautiful about being in community each Sunday. You will never find a pastor that is going to preach on what you want every week. You will never find a pastor that says "Yay and Amen" to all of your political, cultural, theological and ministerial ideologies but that is the beauty of being a part of a church. There is diversity...only if you are ready for it. 

Churches grow larger when people are willing to stick around and actually help or fall into what is going on already so that those programs are in place when more people attend. This model is true for any church because they have all started off small. 

So...if you are the type of person that goes from church to church not being able to settle in. Give it some thought and realize perhaps it is not the church that is the problem. 


  1. Well said Bob. When we first moved to this area we attended a large church. We never felt welcome. I got very discouraged and quit goi g to church. Then Sue brought me to RADIANT FELLOWSHIP and it is HOME. Thank you for all you do forthechurchand community you and your family are truly a blessing