Small Church: Big Work
When people ask me about my background, I tell them that I grew up in churches and radio stations. My father was my preacher, but Pops was not just my preacher who I wanted to emulate; he was also a D.J., or disc jockey. I spent many days in churches and radio stations. I enjoyed that a lot. One particular thing that I enjoyed about Pops working in radio was that he would broadcast high school football. In those days, he was the play-by-play voice for the Stephenville Yellowjackets, and if you know anything about the Yellowjackets, then you know that they were very good in the 90s (when Pops broadcasted for them) and that meant multiple trips to the State Championship … and I was right there with him along the way! I would help as his spotter or as one who was always willing to go and check out the complimentary press box food. Those were some great days. I enjoyed watching how Pops would see everything that went on during the game. He never seemed to miss anything. I sometimes smile when I watch or listen to college and pro sports broadcasters when I notice how quickly they come back with all different types of stats. Pops just had a three- or four-man crew. It was him, a color analyst, a sideline reporter, and someone doing stats. I remember a few times where there was no stat man, but they made it work. They had a system and it was effective. Very rarely did I hear them complain and wish they had more people to do the task. They just loved what they did, and boy did they do a great job! I might be a little biased of course, but in my eyes he was the world’s greatest broadcaster. He was also the world’s greatest preacher. So then, can you imagine what I wanted to be when I was growing up? When I look back on how that small crew worked together, and I look over my time spent in small church ministry, I can see how much quality time needs to be spent on using all the resources that are available to you. We were always at churches that employed two of fewer ministers, and this led us to find creative ways to accomplish the goals before us. It also led to seeing everything, just like Pops did from the broadcast booth.
Now that I’m “grown up”, I’m a preacher and I broadcast high school football on the radio. I ended up doing what I know best. I often jokingly tell people that I do what I do because I am not really qualified to do anything else. When I think back to those days in the press boxes watching how the greatest broadcast team worked their craft, I reflect on how things work in small churches. Often things are done by the same people who honestly get a little exhausted from time to time, but they make it work. Sometimes the team of people who do the most work are just a little bigger than Pops’s broadcast crew of three to four people.
One of the important lessons I have learned in small churches is that it really depends on the time of year you do something. One example is Vacation Bible School, which obviously takes place during the summer. But with that, you have to make sure that you schedule a time when those three to four are here. But believe me when I tell you that we get the job done, and we love it. It’s a good exhaustion. I’ve spent 16 years in youth a family ministry and now over four years in preaching ministry, and I see no end in sight!
In my 20+ years of ministry I’ve learned how to do it and how to not do it. I’ve made my fair share of mistakes for sure, but I’ve also learned—and am still learning—how to get the most out of what you have. I learned early on that even though we may be a small church, that doesn’t diminish the work. We are a small church that is doing a big work. My wife used to tell me that I don’t have to say yes to everyone when they ask for my help, and her point was that I don’t have to do it all alone. Everywhere we have been in ministry, we have been part of a team. We seek to be community-minded. We seek to be mission-oriented. We understand that before you can do any outreach you must reach out to those within your small faith family and inspire them to continue to fight the good fight. We have learned how to take the gifts that God has given us and offer them back to him through what we believe to be a mighty work. So next time I’m asked how many we have on Sunday mornings, maybe I will respond by saying, “Those whom God has blessed and those who are blessing others!” I love what I do, and I can’t imagine doing anything else. I wear my small church preacher tie with pride. How about you?
When I broadcast football games I get pretty excited. Some might say that I get very passionate and articulate when I seek to describe what is happening on the field. This carries over into my preaching. Overall I am a very passionate person. I can recall many halftime and postgame interviews over the years with coaches. Win or lose, these guys are proud of their young men. They almost say that they’re “good kids,” and the people that I am blessed to be with each week are good people just trying to live out their calling. How do you learn this? You have to spend time in the “press box” so that you can see just how blessed you are.