Small Church Challenges: Is the Grass Greener in Large Churches?


I sat in my office in a small church, a young church plant, thinking about other children’s pastors and ministry directors in larger churches wishing that I could have their time, volunteers, resources, and budget.  How much more I might be able to do for God if I had all the benefits of the larger church. I was looking at the “grass” and it certainly did seem greener in the larger churches, but is it? Is there really a difference between the challenges those serving in small churches and those serving in large churches encounter? Let’s take a brief look at some of the challenges small and large churches face.

The word team is thrown around in children’s ministry circles frequently. In the small church where I served, my “team” was mainly my wife and I with some support. I always longed for more volunteers to serve. Recently in a children’s ministry Facebook group the question was posed, “Do you have the number of volunteers that you need to run your children’s program, and fill every spot needed?” Several serving in churches with attendees ranging from 100 to 2,000 responded with almost all stating that they wish they had more volunteers to staff their children’s ministry. We all have a desire to have more volunteers.

Part of the reason why we desire more volunteers is because no matter how well we try to schedule people to accommodate their schedules, people inevitably call at the last minute saying that they cannot make it. I would send out a schedule, trying to keep a common rotation, and within minutes of publishing the schedule I would receive notifications that people could not serve on the dates that I had them scheduled.  Trying to get people to attend training and meetings was also difficult. Those serving in ministry, in all sizes of churches, are nodding their head in agreement having experienced these things.

Not all churches have these issues. There are some churches that have an abundance of volunteers and have figured out the scheduling and training issues. I also do not want to seem like I am disparaging those who volunteer to serve. Many serve regularly and have issues that come up that they need to handle. The point I am trying to make is that it does not matter what size your church is, we all serve alongside other people, who may or may not have the passion that we have for children’s ministry, but all still need to deal with whatever “life” may come their way.

These volunteer challenges should not come as a surprise to any of us because Jesus clearly addresses it when He sends out the 72 as recorded in Luke chapter 10.

(v. 2 – The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few)

Other areas where all children’s ministries, no matter the size of the church, struggle can be with budget, space, and security of the children. Many are underfunded, or desire more to do more. Rooms often need to be shared with other ministries, and in today’s culture, extreme measures need to be considered to protect the children and the church.

It is easy to compare our ministry to another, admiring their “green grass”. While we may look over and dream about the “lawn” of the larger church, what we need to remember is that their lawn is just bigger. We are all serving to get the grass to grow, eliminate weeds, and have a nice lawn. It is just that their lawn is bigger. Our challenges are similar, though the answers and solutions may not always be the same.

May we not compare our challenges with others, but may we be thankful with the lawn (ministry) that God has given to us and reach the children with the resources that He provided.

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