5. Inferiority complex.
I was a seminary student when called to my second pastorate. Determined to figure out how to grow that church–they had been stuck at 40 in attendance for years–I read everything I could find in the seminary library. Fortunately, they had quite a few books on pastoring the small church.
What I discovered was something I was beginning to notice in my people. Small churches often are stymied by inferiority complexes. “We can’t do anything because we’re small. We don’t have lots of money like the big churches in town.”
So they set small goals and ask little from their members.
One day, I was visiting in the First Baptist Church of a nearby community. In no way was it what we would call large, but it was three or four times the size of mine. The pastor and I were chatting about some program or other. He said to me, “My people won’t attempt anything like that. They say, ‘We’re not large like the First Baptist Church of New Orleans.'”
That’s when it hit me: feelings of inferiority can be found in all size churches.
I wouldn’t be surprised if the members of FBC-New Orleans were excusing themselves for their inaction by saying, “We’re not Bellevue in Memphis or the FBC of Dallas.”
I don’t know who the members of Bellevue or FBC-Dallas look at with envy. But I’ll bet it’s some church bigger than them somewhere.
The remedy is to put one’s eyes on Jesus Christ. “Lord, what do you want us to do?” That’s the best prayer one can ever pray, and it has nothing whatever to do with what another church is doing.
In that seminary pastorate, I encouraged our people to set the goal high for our annual Christmas offering for foreign missions. One day, a member told me she was chatting with a neighbor who belonged to my friend’s First Baptist Church in the next community, who asked her about the size of our mission offering goal.
When she told her, the neighbor sniffed, “Why, ours is double that!”
Thankfully, my member said nothing. She could have responded, “It should be triple since your church is three times the size of ours.” But she didn’t, and I was pleased.
Peter said, “Lord, what about John here? What do you want him to do?” Our Lord said–and thus set a wonderful pattern for all of us for the rest of time–“What is that to you? You follow me!”
Want your church to reach people and expand and grow? Get your eyes off what others are doing. Most of them, to tell the truth, are declining at a rate so fast it can hardly be measured. You do not want to take your cues from them.
Ask the Lord, “What would you have us to do?” Then do it.
(This is part 1 of a two-part article. To read reasons 6 through 10 on why small churches stay small, Click Here.)