A small church is not a stepping stone to bigger and better; this photo of a little white church illustrates the value of small church ministry.

Called to Small Church Ministry – Not a Stepping Stone

By Gordon Rowland, District Representative

“So, you’re moving to something bigger and better?” That was the comment I heard when my wife and I made the difficult decision that it was time to move after several years of ministry in a small rural church.

A Stepping Stone Mentality

In the corporate world of today, it is not unusual to function with this stepping stone mentality. That first job with a large company is a way to “get your foot in the door” and start the process of climbing the ladder. Each promotion becomes a stepping stone as one moves upward to more prestigious and higher paying positions in the corporation.

Sometimes that kind of mentality sneaks into pastoral thinking as well. Someone, looking at pastoral ministry, might be inclined to think, “If I could just spend a bit of time in a little church somewhere, it would give me some experience that I could put on my resume when I apply for a position in a bigger church in the city.”

The Problem with the Stepping Stone Mentality

There are several things that come to mind when I think about the problem with this kind of mentality:

  • Ministry is so different in a small rural church that it really is not a preparation for ministry in a large multi-staff church. In the rural church you are not the lead pastor or the worship pastor or the youth pastor. You are all of the above and much more. Your time is spent more with people and less in the office.
  • The stepping stone mentality treats the rural church as though it is not important, as though the church is just there for your benefit. It devalues the people who live there and love each other and love their church and community.
  • This attitude ignores the value of long-term ministry in a community. It can take years to build relationships and become an integral part of a community and begin to see a response to your ministry.

God’s Call to Small Church Ministry

Very early in our time with Village Missions we became convinced that this was truly God’s call on our life. My wife and I were committed to small church ministry in rural communities, not as a stepping stone to something “bigger and better” but for the long-term.

When we left the church and community that I mentioned earlier, we moved on to another small church in another rural community where we spent almost two decades, preaching the Word and loving the people, and becoming engaged in many areas of community life. I can think of no greater calling than to serve in a small church that brings light to a dark corner of our country.

Gordon Rowland is the District Representative
for the Prairie Provinces

Other Recent Posts

Andy & Staci Hall, Ridgway, MT

This is ranch country in southeast Montana. It’s definitely rural! Pray for this missionary family and church as they study, teach and share God’s Word.

Mark & Deborah Lugg, Bowman, CA

One couple started a Sunday School. God grew it into a church and brought Village Missionaries. 60 years later, it’s a good time to celebrate.