Is the Grass Really Greener?
Posted by: Lori Wilhite
Q: You know how “the grass is always greener”? I think it would be interesting to discuss the benefits and drawbacks to serving in both multi-staff and single-staff churches. There are blessings and trials that come with both circumstances and maybe seeing both sides would make us more content with the ministry in which God has placed us. -Stephanie
Put your seat belt on, because today is going to be a long one! 🙂 Before I turn things over to Cyndi and Brandi to answer this question, let me just chime in with a couple of thoughts. I think Stephanie’s words are very wise about contentment to the ministry in which God has placed us. This question has actually come up a lot. I have found that both the joys and challenges of ministry are quite universal. The danger that we face when we sit back and imagine “how much better things would be if … ” is that we are really aren’t comparing realities. We are only comparing our perception of someone else’s reality. For instance, we don’t really have any idea how tight budgets really are for small churches or large ones. It is sometimes quite surprising. We have no idea what the volunteer ratio is but assume that another church probably has it better. That is why contentment is so key!
I think we all can say that leading a church is hard work, no matter what size you are. I have talked to many Pastors’ Wives who come from both backgrounds, and I am struck by the similarities of the two. We have all been at a place of hurt, joy, frustration, and pride; you name it. We have all experienced the same emotions.
As the PW at a smaller church, I have envied my “sisters” many times for the resources available to them (whether it be financial or having access to additional volunteers), because it allows them to reach so many more than we can. We have envisioned goals for WABC which have yet to come into fruition. It’s been a long standing dream of my husbands to host computer labs for the people in our community but unfortunately because of the size of our building, it’s not possible at this time. There are events we would love to host and ministries we wish to begin that would benefit our community. But though the harvest is plentiful, the laborers are few. I look forward to the day when we have additional team members, or partners to share the burdens that come with ministry.
Now having said that, there are some pros to leading at a smaller church. I love the connection I get to make with each of the families at WABC, but I know that with growth, that opportunity will dwindle. I love the intimacy of our baptisms, baby dedications and weddings; all of which are my husband’s favorite part of pastoring. And even though we are predominately a congregation of older members, we also have a diverse group of young people. Nothing makes me happier than seeing those two groups work together in unison. There is a family atmosphere at WABC that I hope is never lost no matter what size we become.
Many of us have heard the saying, “If the grass looks greener on the other side, water yours!” I think there is a place for churches of all sizes, and there is no reason that we cannot learn from each other. Some of the most valuable advice I have been given has been from church planter wives. In this big pond, whether large or small, we are all striving to work for the Kingdom. The most important thing is that we stay focused on the mission….reaching out to those who are hurt, or lost and telling them about the love of Jesus. That has nothing to do with the size of your church, but the condition of your heart!
Is the grass greener? Oh, the age old question. I have to say we’ve been blessed to serve in both multi-staff and single-staff churches, and both times had the opportunity of knowing we were exactly where God had called us at be in that season.
Currently serving in a multi-staff church, I have to say the biggest difference is probably that more staff allows more “focus” in the actual role. For instance, our Spiritual Formations pastor can really focus in the area of growing our congregation spiritually without having to spend time aligning childcare workers and such. Obviously for events we practice an “all hands on deck” philosophy, which is nice, but when it comes to day to day functions staff are allowed to be more specified and serve in areas where they’re most gifted and passionate.
But ultimately, ministry is ministry and multi-staff churches face the same problems as single-staff churches. Budgets are tight. Fires need to be put out. Work hours are long and days can be stressful. So, no, the grass isn’t necessarily greener, at times it might need less water and other times the grass is down right brown. But, I think Cyndi said it best when she said “It’s not the size of your church but the condition of your heart.”
So, let’s discuss: What are the benefits and drawbacks to serving in both multi-staff and single-staff churches?