Ever wonder why God put you in a small church when your old seminary pals are at First Big Church? And when you see them at a convention or seminar, they ask you, “How’s the church going?” in their sympathetic, funeral-home voice, like someone just died. On those days when you have on your sackcloth-and-ashes, and are asking God, “Why?” — here are some things to ponder:
You may be at a small church…
- So you can pray more. You knew I’d say that, didn’t you? But think about it. We romanticize the ancient ways — all those monks with nothing to do but work and pray. Of course, we’re evangelicals, so we don’t do the monastery thing, but suppose God wants you to pray like monks do — regularly, habitually, consistently, and for others. Now you can and you don’t have to wear the horse-hair shirt.
- So you can learn something. I went to a large church in my second hop out of seminary. Big mistake for me and the church. I needed to learn some things first, instead I learned them the hard way. Remember the movie Groundhog Day? If you’re living the same experiences over and over, maybe there’s a lesson there. (My wife points this out to me all the time, using Groundhog Day as an example, so I have to give her credit here. See, I have learned something!)
- So you can do something different. Too many pastors, including me, wait for the perfect storm of money, volunteers, support, enthusiasm, buildings, material, etc, etc, before we do anything. Our excuse is “if I had ___________, I could really be successful.” Well, it isn’t so. Do something with what you’ve got, even if it means improvising, patching it together, or making it up as you go along. People who have all the resources they need don’t inspire us, it’s the people who do what they can with what they have that change the world!
- So you can hear God. This is different from praying — this is listening. The treadmill of big-church-busyness entices us as we watch our friends with their Blackberries — juggling emails, voice mails, text messages, and IMs. You and I have the privilege of hearing God because we have fewer distractions. Small church ministry affords the joy of spending time with God, not just doing things for God. There is a difference.
- Because God wants you there. For a reason. Known only to Him. Don’t you just hate it when that happens? But it does happen, and if you are patient (I am listening to myself here), God may just show you. In His time. Which is perfect.
This entire post is brought to you by my latest God-why-am-I-here meltdown. Which I have about every 3-5 days, unless I’m on vacation. Today when my wife and I were saying, “We just need a little encouragement” — we got some! Leadership Journal called to ask if an article I submitted 8-months ago was still available for publication. It is, and Leadership will publish it in their next issue, Spring 2007. The topic? How small churches can have a big impact on their communities. Maybe that’s why I’m here!