I received a large response about my post a couple of weeks ago in regard to whether a pastor should be discouraged about his declining church. Here is one email I received that I now share with you (with permission) with the hopes it would encourage many pastors who are in the same position as this faithful brother and to realize that you are not alone. Read and know there are others plugging away and trying to be faithful to preach the word and love God’s people in tough areas just as you are. This pastor wrote…
Thanks for the post on pastoral discouragement in a declining church. Even the good things that are written on church revitalization are written by those who have been “successful” which implies that those who may be faithfully applying the same principles without similar growth are either doing something wrong, are poor preachers, or aren’t cut out for the job. I struggle with those feelings all the time. One further reason that should be taken into account is economics/demographics. I pastor in a region with a total population of about 10,000 which has steadily declined in the last 20 years.
The local economy has been supported for 100 years by 2 paper mills. One mill is now dead and the other is on life support. (If you believe the recent national news story the only thing keeping the mill alive is the success of “50 Shades of Grey” because the paper for the printing of it is produced here.) Anyways, we have seen several families go, or, come and go because of the lack and loss of jobs in our area. Some recent retirees who would still be quite active in the church have also moved to be closer to children and grandchildren who already left the area because of lack of work. The population that remains here is skewed towards older/retired people. I try not to use this as an excuse but it is a reality we live. Thanks for your (almost) daily encouragement.
Pastors, remember God know all things, including the area of which you minister and shepherd you people. He determines our faithfulness and no one else. Press on and be faithful to care for your sheep in that place until the Chief Shepherd returns for them and us.