The change from one pastor to another is plagued with heartache and frustration and failure. We’ve all heard the stories of churches losing members, losing funding, losing their ministries in the wake of a pastor leaving. I believe that the biggest reason for this hardship is a lack of leadership. Leadership truly is important, and if a void in leadership is created at the point of transition, then the church will suffer.
Very often, and for many different reasons, God will shrink a church from one size down to something much smaller. Sometimes the reason a church shrinks is because they have made some poor choices, but often the reasons are totally unavoidable. Changes in employment, changes in the community, changes in denominational affiliation, or a new church opening up down the street are common causes of church reduction. It is very common to find a church that has shifted from 1000 members to 500, or 300 down to 100, or from 100 down to 20. When that occurs, changes are necessary!
Is our feeling about the word “Baptist” a reality? Is it true that most unchurched people out there have negative feelings toward the word “Baptist”? Has it really become dirty word? I don’t want there to be any obstacles to our ability to proclaim the gospel. But I also don’t want to make a change based on untrue perceptions, insecure feelings, or fear.
God has a great track record of using the smaller, weaker things of the world to accomplish His will. He gets more of the glory that way. The litmus test for how much a church can accomplish for God isn’t the size of the church, but the willingness to allow Him to work through them. God uses churches of all shapes and sizes.
Gathering together on Sunday morning and then scattering out into the world the rest of the week is easy to do in a society that leaves Sunday alone. But we don’t live in that world anymore. We can respond to the change with guilt trips and increased separation from the community we live in, or we can make a few adjustments.