A Word to the Small Town Pastor

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Over the last 10 years or so I’ve had the privilege of ministering with dozens of pastors in other churches. Many of these were in person. Others were virtual. I’ve been in large and small churches. I’ve been to big cities and small towns with only one stop light. (Or none at all.).

In the process, I’ve learned a few things about pastors and churches. In fact, much of what I write this blog about comes from those experiences.

Recently I had back to back weeks in small cities dealing with, by some standards, smaller churches. They were shy about sharing their success.

I led a leadership retreat for a church with 150 leaders in the room. I was amazed they could attract that size crowd in a small city. But, talking to the pastor, it was as if they had no success at all…at least when compared to my perceived “success”. (I’ve realized, too, that if you have a decently read blog and you’re from out of town…people credit you with more success than you deserve. I’m sometimes seen as the “expert”. If only they knew, right?)

It wasn’t humility on this pastor’s part. I’m not saying he wasn’t a humble person, but I don’t think that was keeping him from talking about the good things God was doing through his church. It was more. I think it almost always is.

That’s when it occurred to me something I’ve observed numerous times, but never put into words.

Sometimes they don’t know how well they are doing.

It’s true.

Take my good friend Artie Davis as an example. His church is mega impacting Orangeburg, SC. I would love to see the church I pastor have half the influence in the community where I live. Artie also leads The Sticks Network of churches ministering in small towns. The impact of those church is amazing every year when I attend their conference.

Many times the small city pastors compare themselves to the big city churches. They compare numbers rather than progress. They compare size rather than context. They compare notoriety rather than influence.

And, because of that, many times, they don’t know how well they are really doing.

I see the connections, networking and influence the small town pastor has and I wish I could have that kind of Kingdom influence in my city. I see the respect they command in their community and know, in my context, they are miles ahead of me.

Small city pastor. God is using you. You are making a Kingdom difference. You just don’t know how well you are doing.

Do you know a small town pastor doing great Kingdom work?

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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11 thoughts on “A Word to the Small Town Pastor

  1. Thank you for your encouraging words. So many small churches are making a big impact, but they don't feel that way because of their size. Your post is right on!
    Terry Reed
    Small Church Tools

  2. Ron, thank you for an article of encouragement. I have felt a bit discouraged lately, as our "Mama" church is only and hour away, off of a major highway running east to west in Western Colorado. They draw 550+ every week, led over 700 to Christ last year alone. We vary week to week from 25-55 in our congregation, still play to tracks because there are no drummers here in our town of 3000, and struggle week to week financially, no matter how much of the Word we preach and practice. Yet, we did touch 128 lives last year with the Gospel, and are viewed as leaders in our community, which we have been in for nearly 15 years. It is hard not to compare or desire to have a church like "Mama." Your article made me realize that for where we are, and what we do year in and year out, we are impacting lives & delivering what God has asked us to, and our leaders believe we are doing great with what God has given us. Thanks again.

  3. Thanks for this, Ron. There are thousands of Small Churches in small towns and big cities that are doing extraordinary work under the radar. They aren’t looking for notoriety, but they do need to be appreciated. A word like this goes a long way.

  4. Ron, this is an important word to many "big town" pastors in parts of the world where the church is on the frings of society. In many parts of Europe, Asia, and elsewhere, diligent pastors are often left wondering if they're making an impact.

    Thank for you for a word that can encourage leaders around the world

  5. Since i am pastoring a church in a small town and have for most of my ministry, it is easy to get tunnel vision and think we are not making an impact. The comparison games kicks in and it is ugly. We attend conferences (least I did) that leave us feeling less than adequate, and when we try to implement these same methods at home, we bomb. I know that feeling. My first Sticks (when it was in Loudonville, OH) was a great eye-opener for me. My last Sticks (in 2011) cemented that "I am doing a good and worthy work" attitude. Thanks for your encouragement to us small town pastors Ron. Thanks to Artie as well.