This is part three in a series about the advice pastors of larger churches give to pastors of smaller churches. Recently there has been a resurgence of articles on how to grow your church. Titles such as:
“Eight steps to grow your church:
“The four main reasons your church isn’t growing”
“How to increase your attendance by 40%…guaranteed!”
I wouldn’t have a problem if the articles were titled:
“Eight steps towards a healthy church”
“Four signs of an unhealthy church”
“How to increase the health-factor in your church by 40%”
However, I get nervous when anyone makes church health or church growth something that is simple to attain if you just follow the advice the writer gives. There are so many factors that are outside of the control of the pastor. You can have a great plan, but because the plan is dependent upon people, your plan might not, and often time does not, give you the desired results.
Another frustration for small church pastors is when they read said articles (you need to do this, and this, and this, to experience growth) and they think to themselves, “We do all that. And still my church is small.”
Ever felt that way?
Back to the recent blog I read a while back that inspired me to do this series which began here.
The writer said, “As the pastor of a little church, you know everybody; you do all the praying, all the baptizing, all the teaching; you know every family, every kid, every dog and cat; and you shepherd everybody personally. But there’s a limit to how many people you can personally shepherd.”
That’s true. So far so good, but then…
“As the church grows, you must change roles from Shepherd to Rancher.”
Whoa, take’er easy there pilgrim. (John Wayne)
It’s true that things will change for you if your church gets big. Most of us will never experience this, but still, it’s true. Going from Shepherd to Rancher might be nessesary and sound exciting, but it comes at a great personal price.
I bet when you said yes to the call of God in your life it wasn’t a call to be a Rancher. I bet you felt called to be a Minister, or a Pastor, or a Shepherd. I remember talking to a pastor who’s church had experienced substantial growth which required him to change his leadership style from a Shepherd to a Rancher. He lamented to me, “I’m almost doing nothing anymore that has anything to do with pastoring.” Another pastor told me, “Trying to become a Rancher killed my soul.”
But then, towards the end of the article, the writer says…
“You must be willing to let other people share the ministry.” I LIKE THAT!
Healthy and happy pastors train and equip the members of their church to share in the ministry. (Eph. 4:11,12) Healthy and happy churches have a large percentage of volunteerism.
What are you doing to multiply leaders? You may only have one person, but start there. And if your church happens to grow and you feel the temptation to go from a Shepherd to a Rancher…fight the temptation. Hold out as long as you can. And even if you are forced to become a Rancher, and most of us won’t be, make sure you reserve a portion of your work week to do the things Pastors do. Love people, pray, visit, meet one-on-one, mentor, take care of your soul and the souls of your people.