Stretch Yourself & Your Congregation

21 Feb

This is the second post on “Don’t Wait for your church to Grow Up…”


Tip # 2 Stretch Yourself & Your Congregation

I remember my first VBS. I was an adult. In fact, I was a pastor. Not growing up in church has its “perks” I guess. I had no idea how VBS worked. I just knew the point was supposed to be to reach kids for Jesus. That sounded pretty easy. Also, I had some ladies in my church that were well acquainted with VBS. We put a crew of folks together, set a date and started planning. Now our church was small. I’m talking 35 people on a Sunday morning small. We had probably less than 5 kids coming to church. In a planning meeting our ladies began discussing how many kids we should prepare for. They decided we should plan for 35 or 40 kids. I was a little surprised. I proceeded to tell them that we should plan on having about 100 kids. I was planning on hitting the neighborhoods and rounding them up! Now these ladies knew a lot more about VBS than I did. And they proceeded to let me know that 35 or 40 was a good number to plan for. So the meeting ended with a goal of 35-40 kids.

We didn’t have a very big building. We had a small sanctuary, three Sunday School rooms, an office and two bathrooms. That’s it. Small. But our folks decorated it up and put together lessons to teach the kids. I hit the streets. I knocked on doors. The Lord did something pretty amazing. He sent kids. In fact we had over 80 kids the first night. Can I be honest? We had too many kids. And everyone blamed me. People were mad….at me. And they told me. We didn’t have enough literature, snacks, crafts, or room. I came very close to being fired, I believe.

After our nerves and tempers cooled off we had a mini meeting. There were good things going on. This was the most people we had had at the church. It was the biggest thing we had ever done. People came to church that had never been. So after discussion we decided that we would continue on with VBS that week. It was a tough week. After that we affectionately called the week of VBS “Purgatory” in our church. But it was a great week. Everyone adapted. The crowd grew. The kids had a great time. People professed Christ as Savior and we made relationships with folks in our community.

Every year after that our church decided to make VBS a big thing. We decided to try and reach unchurched kids, not entertain our own kids. We entered into a building project adding more room. Our VBS continued to grow each year. In fact our small church led the entire Association in VBS in consecutive years following our pilot year. We were having more children come to VBS than churches four times our size. Last year one of the fathers of some of our VBS kids was ordained. His children and wife started attending. The wife professed Christ and we began praying for her husband. He gave his life to Christ and is now ordained and ministering in the name of Christ.

We were a small church. But we started a big ministry. Being the pastor of a small church can be frustrating at times. We have to battle against the tendency of dreaming small. God doesn’t need lots of people to do big things. As a pastor you have to convince your people of this. That may mean at times you have to stretch them. Take them places they are a little afraid of going. Now, be wise. Don’t get yourself fired! But if you don’t attempt great things for God you will soon grow weary. As a leader God wants to use you to challenge His people. They need to see Jericho taken and Goliath fall. And you need to see that too. You need to know God is using you. Being the leader of a small church doesn’t mean you have to have small faith. It doesn’t even mean you are limited. Stretch yourself. Stretch your congregation. You’ll stay longer and ministry will be a lot more fun.

“ Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.”  Ephesians 3:20-21

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