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A Word of Encouragement to the Small Town Pastor

By December 14, 2016February 5th, 2020Church, Encouragement, Leadership

Over the last dozen years or so I’ve had the privilege of ministering with dozens of pastors in other churches. Many of these were in person. Others were virtual. I’ve been in large and small churches. I’ve been to big cities and small towns with only one stop light. (Or none at all.).

In the process, I’ve learned a few things about pastors and churches. In fact, much of what I write this blog about comes from those experiences.

A couple years ago I had back to back weeks in small cities dealing with, by some standards, smaller churches. I realized quickly, probably because I was coming from a larger city and a larger church, they were going to be shy about sharing their success.

I led a leadership retreat for a church with 150 leaders from different churches in the room. I was amazed they could attract that size crowd in a small city – and actually bring people from different churches together. But, talking to the host pastor, it was as if they had no success at all – at least when compared to my perceived “success”. (I’ve realized, too, if you have a decently read blog and you’re from out of town – people credit you with more success than you deserve. I’m sometimes seen as the “expert”. Just please don’t ask our staff about that one.)

It wasn’t humility on this pastor’s part. I’m not saying he wasn’t a humble person, but I don’t think that was keeping him from talking about the good things God was doing through his church. It was more. I think it almost always is.

That’s when it occurred to me something I’ve observed numerous times, but never put into words.

Sometimes people don’t know how well they are doing.

It’s true.

Take my good friend Artie Davis as an example. His church is a mega impact on the small town of Orangeburg, SC. I would love to see the church I pastor have half the influence in the community where I live. Artie also leads The Sticks Network of churches ministering in small towns. The impact of those church is amazing every year I attended their conference.

Many times the small city pastors compare themselves to the big city churches. They compare numbers rather than progress. They compare size rather than context. They compare notoriety rather than influence.

And, because of that, many times, they don’t know how well they are really doing.

I see the connections, networking and influence the small town pastor has and I wish I could have this kind of Kingdom influence in my city. I see the respect they command in their community and know, in my context, in many ways they are miles ahead of me.

Small city pastor. God is using you. You are making a Kingdom difference. You just sometimes don’t know how well you are doing.

Do you know a small town pastor doing great Kingdom work?

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Ron Edmondson

Author Ron Edmondson

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Join the discussion 18 Comments

  • Travis says:

    I know this is an older post, but I wanted to reach out to small town pastors and let them know me about the Small Town Big Church Coaching network beginning soon. It’s coaching for small town pastors, led by successful small town pastors. You can find more info at

  • spirituallyrelevant says:

    These words literally speak life into the small town pastor! Thank you Ron for the article and wisdom behind it.

  • I absolutely love this post. As someone who started a blog to encourage and resource small town pastors I know just how important they are. Thanks for encouraging all of us.

  • Terry Reed says:

    Thank you for your encouraging words. So many small churches are making a big impact, but they don't feel that way because of their size. Your post is right on!
    Terry Reed
    Small Church Tools

  • Joseph says:

    Ron, thank you for an article of encouragement. I have felt a bit discouraged lately, as our "Mama" church is only and hour away, off of a major highway running east to west in Western Colorado. They draw 550+ every week, led over 700 to Christ last year alone. We vary week to week from 25-55 in our congregation, still play to tracks because there are no drummers here in our town of 3000, and struggle week to week financially, no matter how much of the Word we preach and practice. Yet, we did touch 128 lives last year with the Gospel, and are viewed as leaders in our community, which we have been in for nearly 15 years. It is hard not to compare or desire to have a church like "Mama." Your article made me realize that for where we are, and what we do year in and year out, we are impacting lives & delivering what God has asked us to, and our leaders believe we are doing great with what God has given us. Thanks again.

  • Karl Vaters says:

    Thanks for this, Ron. There are thousands of Small Churches in small towns and big cities that are doing extraordinary work under the radar. They aren’t looking for notoriety, but they do need to be appreciated. A word like this goes a long way.

  • Ron, this is an important word to many "big town" pastors in parts of the world where the church is on the frings of society. In many parts of Europe, Asia, and elsewhere, diligent pastors are often left wondering if they're making an impact.

    Thank for you for a word that can encourage leaders around the world

  • cycleguy says:

    Since i am pastoring a church in a small town and have for most of my ministry, it is easy to get tunnel vision and think we are not making an impact. The comparison games kicks in and it is ugly. We attend conferences (least I did) that leave us feeling less than adequate, and when we try to implement these same methods at home, we bomb. I know that feeling. My first Sticks (when it was in Loudonville, OH) was a great eye-opener for me. My last Sticks (in 2011) cemented that "I am doing a good and worthy work" attitude. Thanks for your encouragement to us small town pastors Ron. Thanks to Artie as well.