To The Pastor of a Small Church
By Hubert Buckner
The church you pastor is still small in attendance after some years. You’ve done it all: every-thing the seminars teach. You’ve used programs and promotions. Home Bible Studies have produced some new converts, who have repented and been water baptized. Even some filled with the Holy Ghost. Visitors enthuse over the services, but after awhile they avoid you on the street since they stopped attending. They’ve found another church.
Just about all who ask are helped, counseled, encouraged, whenever and wherever. But in spite of the prayer, fasting, activities and love, they slip away. Other churches in town now claim them, or they attend none. Tears and travail and a breaking heart litter the years that pass. `Helpers’ come and go. The reasons are varied, but in the end, it’s just you and your family – plus the few who are the called, chosen and faithful. If you are blessed, there is at least one who can and will help you with some things. Overall, things are static, there is no church growth. You and possibly your wife are still working a secular job – for three reasons: food, clothing and shelter.
Occasionally, a new family or two come in. Then Satan does his best to break the church apart. Usually it’s not the new converts who give you the biggest problems.
You blame yourself for the things that go wrong. After that you blame everybody else. You say that it’s the area and conditions. But mostly, you blame yourself Glowing reports of the Lord moving in Apostolic assemblies all over reach your ears. Why isn’t it happening in your town? The devil wants to tell you to give up, quit, leave, and forget it. Nobody cares. You’re wasting your time and efforts. You are tired, hurting and your wife and family are tired and hurting. It would seem the more you try to do, the less is accomplished. At times some who should be helping you are working to hinder you. Still, you may feel you should go to another place. And that’s okay if the Lord has released you to do so. You wonder, you search for answers. Why, Lord? Why are people not being saved in this church?
At one point I had not baptized one person in water and none had received the Holy Ghost for a period of three years. Standing at the church altar one day, I cried this fact aloud unto the Lord. A still small voice replied, “That is not your fault. You have told them my Word. Responsibility for obedience is theirs. Do not be burdened with their guilt.”
Since then I have thought about all the people Jesus, the Son of man spoke to, of all the lives His earthly ministry touched. Only about 120 were in the upper room waiting for the promise of the Father. Multitudes sought Him for the loaves and fishes, but only eleven responded to His message and miracles enough to appreciate eternal life. The rest considered His sayings as too hard to keep. That’s really the reason some churches stay small in number. The Word becomes hard to keep. The Lord Jesus says that those who love Him will keep His commandments. Many leave because they say the pastor is too hard. But brother, when someone loves the Lord with their whole heart, soul, mind and strength, the truth can’t run them off. Now, we pastors don’t always do everything right. How-ever, in comparison, we do not do so much wrong. In some cases, an assembly may not grow because of leadership. More likely, it is due to `FOLLOWSHIP’. People don’t want to follow the Word of God.
Read the Holy Ghost inspired words of Paul in II Timothy, chapter four. That man of God had some problems keeping people with him also. And, like Paul, we must preach the Word and the Lord will preserve us in His kingdom.
Remember, those who hunger and thirst after righteousness will be filled. God bless and keep you.
From Apostolic Accent Magazine, May 1991