Most of my ministry has been in small churches and I love them!  But I grew up in a church with over 500 in worship, so my first small church pastorate was almost a disaster.  Out of that experience, I quickly developed some rules for pastoring a small church:

Rule #1:  Realize a small church is not a miniature big church.  Remember “Mini-Me” in Austin Powers — an exact clone of the big guy, only smaller?  I learned quickly that small churches aren’t “MiniMes.”  Worship, decision-making, pastoral care, and just about everything else in a small church is different from large church ministry. 

Rule #2:  Assume all your members are related.  I discovered this rule one day after venting my frustration with one member to another.  His four word reply is still ringing in my head — “Yeah, she’s my cousin.” 

Rule #3.  Don’t underestimate your members.  Small church members can be just as gifted, committed, and excited as large-church members — sometimes more so.  Many people actually prefer a small church because they can find a place of service and get to know people more quickly.

Rule #4.  Don’t overestimate the pastor’s importance.  Lyle Schaller says small churches are member-driven.  Pastors may come-and-go, but members keep the church running.  Plug-in rather than charge-in is my approach now.

Rule #5.  Don’t be in a hurry to leave.  While pastoring my first small church, I couldn’t wait to move up to a larger congregation.  Looking back, I realize that those folks saw my restlessness, but loved me anyway.  I wished later that I had stayed longer.

Today I’m still pastoring a small church.  Small churches fit me, and hopefully, I fit them better now, too.