Overcoming Challenges in the Small Church with Prayer



Serving a small church has its unique challenges. Up until five years ago, when I moved to a rural community and began serving a small two-point parish, I had always had plenty of music talent available and active volunteer youth directors. Essentially I took it all for granted, and as they say, “ya don’t appreciate the water till the well runs dry”.

When I started serving these congregations, the organist was 80+ years old and did not hear or see well. She often stared playing a hymn that was different than the one designated in the bulletin, she would lose her place in the service, her tempo varied greatly. It was time for her to retire. She did so, after a little pastoral encouragement.  Members of both churches were worried. “Who will want to play the organ in our little churches?”  I didn’t know, I just knew that we had to do something different. We formed a committee. We prayed. We advertised in the local papers and on the internet. We got FIVE resumes! Everyone was stunned. The committee, after interviewing all five, unanimously agreed on one candidate. He is a school teacher, so is free on weekends. He has made all the difference in our worship services. He has also encouraged others and we have started a contemporary worship service once a month.

The youth program issue has not been so neatly resolved.  The once active youth program has suffered recently with the lack of a leader. Some Moms have tried to help with little success. We meet every September and each family takes responsibility for a month’s activity. It has been somewhat successful. I have realized that I need to take a more active role in order to make things happen on a regular basis. I have planned some mission trips that have been every successful, and will do more.  For now, I keep connecting with the youth of my congregations the best way I know how: I go to their sporting events, I go to the places they work, I visit their farms, I have fun with them at the youth events that we actually pull off. I pray. 

I guess that is one way that all churches, not matter the size, are the same. The pastors pray a lot.