Pastors, we’ve all done it. We’ve gotten in the car on a Sunday afternoon when the attendance was lower than we thought it would be, and we’ve wondered if we have what it takes to be a “great” pastor. We look around on social media and see all of the “successful” pastors giving their amazing reports, and all we can think of is how we’re “failing.” I’ve done it. I still do it. But I’m getting better.
Here’s the pathetic, god’s honest truth. The reason we are in a bad mood for three days after a low attendance Sunday is because we define our self-worth from our Sunday crowd. If the attendance is high we feel like a great pastor. If the attendance is low we feel like an awful pastor. Don’t do it! Don’t fall into that deep whole of measuring your self-worth by your attendance. So what if a family goes to the lake on a weekend and misses church… does that make you a bad pastor? So you had the kid’s choir sing some Christmas songs and visiting family members doubled your crowd… does that make you a great pastor?
Don't define your self-worth from your Sunday crowd.
What’s scary is how the feeling of failure causes us to react. I follow a lot of pastors on Facebook and I’m seeing more and more passive aggressive posts about “half hearted” Christians. It usually goes something like this:
“It’s time to come to God’s house. You’ve got no problem spending lots of money and all day in bad weather at some football game. Let’s show God he’s more important than some silly game.”
Let me give you the honest interpretation of this post:
"Hey (insert name here) I thought you told me you couldn’t tithe because you couldn’t afford too… how do you keep affording those football tickets? I wish I could go to more football games like you. I haven’t seen you at church in a couple of weeks, don’t you dare call me needing anything if you won’t come hear me preach. You oviously don't love God.”
Guilt NEVER motivates people to long-term change. You may get a short-term reaction, but it won’t last.
Here’s the dirty little secret…we want our people to support the church, because we want them to support us. I have several friends who were pastors and staff pastors but are no longer in full time ministry and they attend church 2 or 3 times a month. We would do the same thing. Don’t spend time in your head or in conversations with your staff or spouse trashing people who don’t attend as much as you want.
Fall on your face and spend time wrestling with God. Beg him to rip the attendance poison out of you. Keep telling Him He is enough, and tell Him that you need Him to help you believe that, and then tomorrow do it all over again.
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