When I became pastor of First Church in Charlestown -- one of the oldest churches in Boston -- in July 2015, a large portion of our community thought that the church was closed, and the building was abandoned. The congregation consisted of about eight older people who had been attending the church for decades. We have grown slowly over the last three years, and we have been blessed to see people begin to grow stronger in their faith in that time. One of the challenges of pastoring a small church is that the church is unable to provide a full-time salary for me, and I am currently bi-vocational.
I often lead workshops for pastors of small churches. I typically start by asking the question: “What keeps small churches and churches led by bi-vocational pastors from being as Kingdom-minded as they would like to be?” Great discussions follow about the challenges small congregations face. Inevitably, the issue of pastoral burnout becomes a key part of the discussion. Pastors of small churches are already doing so much, and they just can’t add anything else to their agenda without burning out. So therefore, they never get to do all the Kingdom ministry they want to.