Pastoring a small church sometimes feels like you are standing out in the wide prairies many of us live in – all alone. Sometimes it feels like there is no one to talk to or hang out with – at least that has been my experience.
I began ministry as an Associate Pastor for Youth. There was also the Senior Pastor and a couple of other pastors who were loosely connected to the church and had their offices there but who were doing ministry to new Canadians. I wasn’t close friends with these others on staff, yet I was at least able to “rub shoulders” with them and learn from them and get the occasional advice from them.
Many of us on are on our own. We have a one-person staff. And many times I like this. I like being able to make decisions and steer the ship. While there is usually an Elders Board or leadership team that you work with, they are all employed elsewhere and not as invested in the day to day and week to week running of the church. The elders I have right now are incredible! They are willing to think in new directions, are very supportive, and always want to work together, but in the end much of the implementing of plans and ideas still comes back to me.
By our position and the fact we tend to move around (too often I think) we leave our friends behind and it takes a long time to make new ones. Many of us have pastor friends, but probably if you are in a small town, they are not just across town but across the province or country. Getting together isn’t just a phone call and a Tim Horton’s away. Getting together takes some planning. It’s not like we have the weekend free to go visit friends like our congregation does, right?
So… we have to work at it. I’m the only pastor in my town, only church in town, but I’m part of a ministerial in a larger town about 20 minutes away. I’ve gone out of my way to try to have coffee with one of the pastors or meet for lunch, but it takes work and scheduling to make it happen.
All that to say, the reality is small town pastoring can be lonely but we need to find ways of connecting with and pursuing friends. They may be in your church or they may be a pastor down the road. We all need relationships.
Here’s hoping that you aren’t too lonely!