hope for churches in stress


October 1, 2015

Most churches in America are small. Yet big churches attract the most people and money. What assets, then, does a small church pastor have to use? 


Clearly, there are advantages in having human and material resources. Surprisingly, there is another set of advantages that come with “intangible” resources.


A pastor can build on a sense of call—the assurance of being chosen by God for a particular role and place. When distressed by comparisons or outcomes, the pastor can persevere with purpose in this appointment by God (2 Tim. 1:6-7; Jn. 15:16).  


Amid challenges, character is essential. To embrace adversity, to pray through reverses, to persevere despite setbacks—all of this requires the intangible asset of character (Acts 11:24).


To buck fads and trends, a “contrarian” perspective is helpful. A pastor can set aside conventional wisdom, recognize “desirable” difficulties, prayerfully discern the “new thing” that God is doing, and boldly step out in untried directions (Isa. 43:19).


A pastor can be creative. God accomplishes extraordinary things with what people have in their hands—whether staff, stones, or sack lunch (Ex. 4:2; 1 Sam. 17:40; Jn. 6:9). Human resourcefulness suffused with divine power is the “stuff” of miracles. 


None of these assets are tangible ones, and they are available to all Christ-followers. Yet small church pastors have the advantage of necessity and, at times, desperation. So take stock of the intangibles available to you, and press ahead in faith (Jam. 2:5).


Desirable difficulties is a phrase from Malcolm Gladwell's book,

David and Goliath, pp. 165-193. See earlier blog post on October 1, 2014. 




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