“Were you that pastor?” Came the energetic inquiry from my colleague and fellow consulting/coach. We were sitting in a church Bible study classroom listening to the 76 years of age pastor of this small, declining church. At the time of our meeting, the church was running about 12 in their Sunday morning service. This was never a huge or mega church. I’m not sure if they averaged 150 in worship for any length of time. But just a few short years ago they were running 45-55. That’s when this story took place that my colleague inquired of.
This pastor was wanting to motivate his congregation to think not of themselves, but of helping others. He prayed and planned his sermon for the week and as closing remarks, he said I want us to compare our church to…and he named one of the largest churches in the region. (My numbers aren’t going to be exact, but they’re close)
The pastors shared, Last week X church had over 3,000 people in attendance. We had 45. Last week they’re offering was $148,000. Ours was a little over $300. (Get ready, his next statement was great) “I think we need to help that church out.” That’s right, he was suggesting this small church should help the megachurch. The pastor even gave a suggestion as to how they were to help.
His suggestion was that this small church should give all their offering the next week to the big church. His congregation’s response. Well, at first, they thought it was a joke. When he assured them he was serious, some probably considered having their own pastor committed. But the next Sunday the church made an extra effort. That little church collected over $600 that week. What did they do with it? They sent every penny of it off to the megachurch with a card signed by the members.
Why would the pastor of a small struggling church suggest to his members that the church give ALL of one week’s receipts to the largest church in the region? Certainly, there were many other struggling churches in the area who could use the money more than the megachurch. Yes, there were. The pastor’s message was, “Don’t you want to be part of something much bigger than yourself?”
We all want to be something big. And God’s design is for us to desire to be part of something bigger than our self-worth. That small church has been a giving church ever since, giving offerings and extra monies to other churches, church plants, and ministries. $100 here, $300 there, another $200 to a struggling pastor – never wanting anything in return.
One challenge from a pastor, a life-long lesson learned for all his congregation. Not only did his congregation learn a life lesson. So did the mega church and their pastor. And the story has been shared far and wide since then for others to learn. I’m so glad that I was in the room to hear this 76 years of age pastor share of this one incident in his ministry. And my colleague, Daniel Wilson, well he was enthused to meet the pastor of the story he had heard several years ago. May God continue to bless this pastor and his ministry. What lesson will you take away from his story?
George Yates is the Church Health Strategist for the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions, assisting churches and individuals in pursuing God’s purpose for life. Learn more at ALSBOM.org/revitalization.