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The Big Impact of Small Churches

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Shawn McMullen 10/03/2011

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4 Proven Insights for Thriving in a Small Church

What are you running these days?

It’s the question church leaders hear—and dread—usually at conferences or seminars, anywhere Type A personalities have gathered to talk about ministry and their churches. Unfortunately, in our American church culture, the measurement of how good you are as a person and as a pastor seems to rely on your answer to the question—that one telling number we define ourselves by.

I still remember a pastor who had brought me in to lead an an evangelistic meeting for the small church he led. While I was there, I spent several days as a guest in the pastor’s home. In the late afternoons, he and I would sit on the family’s front porch and invariably people strolling by would stop to talk, often expressing their appreciation to the pastor for his counsel or encouragement. One morning, we walked into a nearby diner for breakfast and this personable preacher stopped at every table (I’m not exaggerating!) to talk and laugh with someone he knew.

This man and his family were making a profound impact on the people in their small community. But when the days’ meetings were over and we sat on that same porch in the quiet of the evening, the preacher’s gregarious voice grew soft and subdued as he talked about the discouragement he felt in his ministry. Many of his seminary classmates had gone on to serve much larger congregations. By comparison, he felt as if he’d failed. I sensed a similar feeling of inferiority among some members of his congregation.

For lack of a better phrase, this pastor and his church suffered from low ministry self-esteem. In their thinking, because they weren’t big, they weren’t successful—or effective—or healthy. >>>

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