I recently sat down with a pastor who leads a church of around 3,000 attendees. During our conversation, something he said broke my heart:
“Honestly, it feels like many of the pastors of smaller churches in our area view me more as a threat to their ministry than anything else. We’ve reached out in the past to try and partner together on some local ministry efforts. But it always comes off like they’re worried their congregation will see what we’re doing and start attending our church.”
I believe this quote doesn’t represent the perspective of most pastors who lead small churches. But it breaks my heart that a church of any size might feel resentment or fear towards another faithful, Kingdom-minded church in the community.
For me, it comes down to this: How can we stay unified as the body of Christ? How can we unite ourselves on one mission? And how can we celebrate the ministry that the churches around us are doing, especially those that are larger than us?
In light of those questions, here are 4 practical ways you can encourage and support the large church down the street from you:
1) Get to know the pastor.
This is the best place to start. Take some time to really get to know the pastor. Invite them out to lunch or coffee. Find out: What are they passionate about? What are their biggest challenges? What is their vision for their church and for the community?
2) Serve together.
As the quote above suggests, it seems that churches, for a variety of reasons, don’t unite on ministry efforts nearly as often as they could. Take the time to connect with the church to see how you can partner together on future ministry in the community. And be willing to encourage your congregation to participate in events they’re hosting -- we’re all on the same mission.
3) Pray for them.
Support their ministry by covering it in prayer. Pray that God would use their ministry to greatly impact the community. Thank Him for the ministry they’ve already been able to accomplish. Not only is this a meaningful way to support them, but it keeps pride from finding a place in our own hearts.
4) Send them an encouraging note.
1 Thessalonians 5:11 tells us to “encourage one another and build one another up.” So grab a pen and take ten minutes to write an encouraging note to the pastor. Thank them for ministering to the community. Encourage them to keep going, to stay faithful, and to continually pursue Jesus in their own life.
We can’t let deep-rooted pride, seasons of insecurity, or anything else stand in the way of our becoming a unified body of believers. Take some time this week to invest in those who are ministering in the community alongside you.
“How good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!” (Psalm 133:1)
From Normal, IL, Austin gets that ministry can sometimes feel anything but “normal.” He grew up leading in the small church his dad pastored, and has since served on the launch teams for two church plants. He holds a Communications degree from Moody Bible Institute and is passionate about seeing churches grow healthier and make a difference in their communities.