Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Pastoral Ministry and Fame

Some good thoughts for the pastor of the little church by Zack Eswine, author of The Imperfect Pastor: Discovering Joy in Our Limitations through a Daily Apprenticeship with Jesus.

Don’t Play the Comparison Game
I've been serving at my church for eight years now, and in the first three years, we lost 150 people, which brought us down to about ninety people. So my best sermon was heard by ninety people. Over the last year and a half, we've doubled back again—we're up to 220 people or something like that.
So we're a smaller church surrounded by big churches. On my worst day, I can think that I don't count. Notice even the way I said, "My best sermon was heard by this many people." It can make me feel as though I'm not really making a difference the way I'd hoped.
I think any of us in smaller churches can feel that way if we're comparing ourselves. The antidote I need is to remember that each of us has been called with different gifts. Jesus told the story of the talents. Some of us have this, some of us have that—we're called to different places.
I just need the grace to remember—and I encourage you and our friends to remember—"Hey, the Lord loves this little church and the community that it's in." And sometimes I need this kind of help when I wake up in the morning, "Lord, can you remind me why you're here? Can you remind me why you love this place so much? I mean, it's not really talked about much in the world. Why are you here? Help me see that again."
That simple reminder can call us out of the struggle that we have to compare ourselves.

Zack Eswine (PhD, Regent University) is the lead pastor at Riverside Church in Webster Groves, Missouri, and the director of homiletics at Covenant Theological Seminary. Zack and his wife, Jessica live in St. Louis, Missouri, with their three children. For more information, visit

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