Part 2 of a Periodic Series: Leading the Smaller Membership Church
Healthy and effective pastoral leadership is a key factor in the fruitfulness of any church. People often form their first judgment of a church by the pastor in the pulpit (or its 20th century equivalent). This, however, is particularly true in the smaller membership church. Often he or she is the only staff member and that alone increases their significance and influence. The pastor is the “face” of the congregation even when the pastor is bi-vocational. And in most smaller membership churches the pastor is the chief caregiver, counselor, and encourager.
The pastor in most churches is the person who gives the most attention to the needs and the vision of the church, and tends to be the prime mover of any significant steps the church takes in ministry. Again, particularly the case in the smaller membership church. In larger churches, the structure may officially call for this vision-casting leadership; but in the smaller membership church, the pastor gains this role by custom or default.
Some pastors are uncomfortable with this role, preferring to devote their time to prayer and preaching. Other pastors responding to the church’s everyday needs find their time and attention swallowed in the “administrivia” of the church–preparing the bulletin, doing all the correspondence, making the purchases, checking the temperature, putting together the mailers. Whether resistance to leadership or distraction from leadership, small churches suffer when the pastor does not see themselves and act unashamedly as the leader of the church.
Now remember, the Holy Spirit IS the leader of the church; but the “pastor” has to be the point man in guiding and equipping the church for faithfulness to the Spirit’s leading.
That means you must lead. If you don’t know how, learn–find a mentor or coach, study; but learn. Don’t just react to things that come your way but learn to be proactive and intentional.
Like any pastor, working by disciplined priorities, is essential for the small church pastor. This is especially because you have no choice but to function as a generalist. In our next post we will discuss those disciplined priorities.
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