I belong to a Facebook group for small church pastors (see here). It includes pastors from every denomination. Theologically it is all over the place. But I still find it very helpful to see what other people are dealing with.
I can tell you that, based on that group, there are many discouraged pastors out there.
That seems to be the default mode of the small church pastor: ready to call it quits and walk away.
They often do.
The problems are usually the same. Low numbers. No growth. No enthusiasm. And most of all, a trouble-maker in the congregation.
The church lady who has served in the church for decades but does not take direction well, such as refusing to open both sanctuary doors, even though she’s been asked many times.
A disgruntled man who’s never invited anyone to church, but who tells everyone that the current pastor isn’t as good as the last one.
A deacon who wants longer sermons, while another wants shorter sermons, while yet another wants a deep sermon that is easy to understand.
A treasurer who refuses to sign off on common-sense expenses.
A lonely person who expects the pastor to fill all of his social and emotional needs.
Having the vocation of a pastor or elder is not easy. It’s a spiritual battle, or at least, a race. And ultimately, we’re all supposed to be working together for a common cause.
Here’s a passage that made me stop and think:
Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you (Heb 13:17).
Are you a joy to your pastor or do you cause him grief? Are you on his side, or against him? Are you submitting, or rebelling?
One of the major pieces of advice that keeps coming up on that small church pastor group is that if people want to leave your church, let them. Open the door for them as they leave. If they’re leaving, they’re upset about something. So let them go. Are you someone the pastor would like to see leave? Or does he know you have his back?
Sometimes it’s better to go quietly than to stay and cause trouble loudly.