“God, why am I here?”

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!

10 thoughts on ““God, why am I here?””

  1. Congratulations on the article!

    80% of Protestant churches run under 100, which means most pastors pastor small churches. 🙂

  2. Chuck,

    Thanks for the help – I had no problem posting.

    Love this post, but I find that often in our small church, I don’t have the time to do things – the Pastor does everything! (at least that’s the mentality that I’m fighting).

    I know, I have to work on that – develop more volunteers, etc… But it helps me understand all too well the “Why am I here” struggles on a regular basis…

  3. Chuck,

    Your posts are beneficial to me. So, I can think of at least one reason you’re here. 😉

    Keep going strong my friend!

    Go with God,
    Donald B

  4. Chuck,

    Thanks for the article–not as much for your answers to “why” but for sharing your “why” questions. Having pastored three small churches during 37 years of ministry, I don’t ask “why” as much (maybe I don’t have the energy left). I’m learning to do my ministry “before the Lord”, trying mostly to glorify him and trying not honor my own ego or measure by the ways of the world. I still have my “why” moments, though. Thanks for reminding me I’m not the only one asking–and for reminding me God is God and I’m not.


  5. Chuck:
    I enjoyed our conversation at lunch on Thursday. I just discovered this post. It relates to some of what we talked about – I have college/seminary friends in large churches and have had to fight the jealousy thing. I have finally come to see that God has put me in a great place for my life and personality. I am content – for now!

    Michael A. Jordan

  6. Michael, me too! Thanks for meeting me and the idea about the small church conference. I posted that idea on “Random Stuff You’ll Like.” Let me know what you think. — Chuck

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