Should a pastor be discouraged about his small church?

I get it.  I pastor what most would say is a small church (about 100 members).  I feel the pressure from certain voices in the American evangelical movement that something is wrong as a result.  For other pastors like me who are feeling this pressure as a result of pastoring a smaller church, there is some helpful counsel for us.  However, I had to find it from outside the American Church scene and from a different century altogether.  The 19th century Scottish pastor and trainer of pastors, John Brown, wrote a letter to one of his students newly ordained over a small congregation and extended this word to him:

I know the vanity of your heart, and that you will feel mortified that your congregation is very small, in comparison with those of your brethren around you; but assure yourself on the word of an old man, that when you come to give an account of them to the Lord Christ at his judgment seat, you will think you have had enough. 

Pastors, regardless the pressures you face in your congregation to “produce the numbers,”  focus on caring for souls.  Be faithful to evangelize, preach the gospel every week, pray for conversions, but make sure your primary focus is on caring for souls.  When we stand before God to give an account for the souls of our flock, God will not be concerned with our increased numbers, as much as how faithful we cared for the souls of those that make up that number.

Posted in Oversight of Souls, The Pastor's Soul
4 comments on “Should a pastor be discouraged about his small church?
  1. Yes I agree with that. Yust is not like that all the time. In both cases some small churches don’t take care of the few members they have. And in some big churches they are bery well take care and fed espiritualy. And the thing is that they grew up in members beacose they go out to look for the loose.

    • The pastors of “big” churches not always are going out looking for souls. Many come from small churches dissatisfied with their small “shopping mall”, thay are looking for a big one. The big churches have a better budget and more entertainment.

  2. Chris says:

    Always loved that quote,

  3. Kendal Connor says:

    For lots of us 100 is a number that may as well be 10,000. We started with a church that was down to 6 and over the course of 13 years have seen it grow to around 23. I for one am sick of pastors with triple digit congregations whining about being small. Dump your ego and start follow hard after Jesus, it is supposed to be his kingdom not our’s that we are building.

2 Pings/Trackbacks for "Should a pastor be discouraged about his small church?"
  1. […] in a sermon that he delivered at a Desiring God conference. Most recently I ran across it in a blog post from Practical […]

  2. […] I know there are many discouraged pastors of small congregations out there who feel very alone.  But it is essential that you know there are many faithful brothers plugging away in the trenches just like you.  Here is one example.  This is an email I received the day after a recent blog post that asked, Should a pastor be discouraged about his small church? […]

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