Essentials for pastors of small churches

Being the pastor of a small church for a long time can be a rewarding experience. But it surely comes with its own set of challenges. Yet there are some things we can do on a consistent basis to help us in the leadership process. Here are some things I’ve been striving for during the last 20 years in my present location.

  1. Understand that you have chosen a noble task
  • Never feel guilty about taking on leadership in the church.
  • Don’t think of this as something lower than other professions.
  • It is a calling of great magnitude.

“The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task.” (1 Timothy 3:1)

  1. Notice what’s happening around you

Be an observer as you walk around and through the church in each of the meetings, small groups, or any event. Here are some things to observe:

  • Interactions among people
  • Attitudes presented through words and actions
  • Openness to ideas and people
  • Team spirit for the various aspects of the organization
  • Contention between people as they deal with various issues.
  1. Respond appropriately

Every effort is commendable. Usually, the intentions are good, but the attitudes and approaches may be confusing.
When you find positives:

  • Give immediate praise when you find someone doing well

When you find negatives:

  • Thank them for their efforts and encourage them to do better when correction is needed
  1. Find needs and delegate

Every need is an opportunity. Every problem is an opportunity for growth and development of leaders in the organization. Here is what you need to do.
Identify – Look for an appropriate person to perform that task or lead that initiative.
Recruit – Once you find a suitable person, convince them of the need and their suitability and get them to make a commitment.
Train – Either you train them or find a suitable person to do the training required to do the task. Some training may take just a few minutes of instructions. Other situations will require more.
Deploy – Release them and get them started on the task. Encourage them and trust them to do the job well.
Monitor – Check back with them regularly to see how they are doing. See if they require help or additional training. Encouragement and appreciation is always a must. Give it lavishly.

  1. Keep your eyes on Jesus, not the numbers

The temptation for number is real. Just keep your eyes on Jesus. Whatever you have to offer, give freely and abundantly. Jesus never held back. His style of evangelism was quite different from what we commonly see around us. His generosity and openness was beyond understanding. But when it came to discipleship, his demands were quite steep.

These practices I’ve outlines above are not special secret keys to make your church grow. But they are essentials for us to keep the church moving in a healthy way toward the mission and goals we have set. With lots of attention that goes to large churches and para-church organizations, the task can be quite difficult. But there is no need to despair. The key is to stay there, be consistent, and don’t give up. 
What has been your experience? What have you found to be essentials as you have led a small church?

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