Don’t Quit!

If you are reading this and you are a pastor of any church I am sure that many of you at some time or another has woke up on Monday morning and wanted to turn in your resignation because of how bad you thought Sunday went.

If you are pastoring a small church of 200 or less and you have awaken on Monday morning then I know that you have felt like turning in your resignation on Monday morning. Just about any pastor has felt this way at one time or another.

The sad thing is too many pastors turn in their resignation too early. The truth is, it isn’t God’s timing, but because they are discouraged that things aren’t going the way they think it should, they decide to quit and God is just getting started with something great that is happening in their church.

I believe one of the reasons that small churches stay small is because there is no stability in leadership. The church has gone from pastor to pastor and never has a chance to do something great because the leadership won’t stick it out.

I heard a statistic that said the average stay of a small church pastor is 3 1/2 years. This is just not long enough. I believe that my congregation did not fully accept me as pastor until my 3 1/2 year mark. Pastors we have to give it time and don’t quit.

Just because your church isn’t running as many as you want it to at first does not mean that you are not successful. Just because you still feel that you are in the former pastor’s shadow does not mean that the people don’t love you. Just because the only mouth at church you are hearing is the one that barks the loudest does not mean that all the people feel the same as that person. God has placed you there for a reason and you need to stay until that reason is fulfilled. Don’t Quit!

Now I know that God truly calls some people to a particular church for a short season, but I believe that many pastors that leave after 2 or 3 years in a church are leaving prematurely.

We as pastors love to preach messages on Isaiah 40:31, but when it comes to us we get impatient waiting on God. Let me encourage you, don’t quit, God isn’t finished with you yet.

Before you surf on to any other site, please be encouraged by a video that I am sure many of you have seen. It’s from the movie Facing the Giants. It is found at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3fOXgn98t0Q

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Why Better Before Bigger?

If you are reading this maybe you are asking, why better before bigger? Well, I will tell you. When I first started pastoring I always thought that i had to keep up with all the other churches and if I wasn’t running a hundred people by the end of my first year, then I wasn’t successful. That thought is completely false. We are successful by being the absolute best church that we can possibly be. We are God’s church and God’s church deserves the best of what we can possibly get. If we take care of what we currently have then God will allow us to grow and thrive, but first we must be healthy.

I recently heard Andy Stanley tell a story on his podcast to leaders about Truett Cathy, owner and founder of Chick-fil-a. Chick-fil-a was having a meeting of all the executives and they were trying to figure out how to become bigger faster. During all the conversation, Truett Cathy sat quietly listening at the end of the table and finally he had had enough and started banging his fist on the table. Truett Cathy made a statement that has made an impact on my life. He said, “Stop talking about getting bigger faster.” Then he continued saying, “If we will get better, then our customers will demand that we will get bigger.

This statement is true for the church today. If we will get better at what we do right, then the people will demand that we get bigger. What are you focusing on in your ministry. Are you trying to make everything that you do in ministry better or are you just worried about how big your congregation will be.

God demands our best and we should give Him our best. Don’t allow the hype of the mega-church get your priorities off course. God has a plan for you and your church and you need to stick to that plan even if it means that you will grow slower than what you had planned. God’s plan is the best plan, figure out what that plan is and get better at it.

Where to Start

First of all, let me begin by telling you why I decided to write this. I believe that I have learned many things already during the 5 years of pastoring the small church that I pastor in Arkansas. I want to share my struggles and successes and hopefully I can help other pastors of small churches. I don’t claim to know everything about pastoring a small church but I have experienced many things.
Since this is my first entry, I want to give you a brief background of where I am coming from. I began pastoring the church I am at almost five years ago. This was my first pastorate. My previous ministry experience was mostly as a youth pastor. Before taking this pastorate I had been out of full time ministry for 7 1/2 years. Needless to say my church took a chance on hiring a guy with no senior pastor experience. My wife and I say that our congregation is good to us because they let us practice on them.
During the past five years that we have been here we have experienced both highs and lows, but I know that God is in it because He has brought us through many obstacles.
One of the biggest hurdles that we had to overcome was financial. When I took the church it was in debt to the tune of $200,000. Now this may not seem like a lot to some of you, but the congregation was only running 35 on a good day. The church was in its 35th year and still paying the original church mortgage. Each time that the church would refinance they would take out more money and never paid off the debt. Today, I am proud to say that in 5 or less years we should be debt free.
When I came to this church, I was the fourth pastor in five years. As you can image, even though the congregation was excited to have a new pastor, they were anticipating that I wouldn’t stay long. Who could blame them with the track record of the past.
So now, here I am almost five years later at this wonderful church and we have come a long way. Our finances are up. The congregation is adding new faces every week. Our Missions giving is up. And the church is healthier than it has been in a long time.
In this blog I am hoping to share with you some of my victories and disappointments in hopes that it will help other small church pastors out there who are just starting or looking for a fresh start.
Thanks for reading and I hope that you will find this to be helpful.