Years ago I pastored a church called Fellowship Church in Holden, Massachusetts. It was a church of 175 people the dwindled to 125 in the summer and ballooned to 225 around Easter. The church focused on community, serving others, and generally learning to love Jesus. It wasn’t perfect, mainly because of its pastor.
As time moved on, I longed for more. Not more money or fame or influence, but more people. I wanted more people to connect and view Fellowship as a part of their family. I wanted more people to fill the seats and worship Jesus. And I wanted more people to join the fun I was generally having almost every day of my life.
But alas, I could never quench those desires, so I found what I thought was a good way to see those things come to fruition. The only cost was giving up my title. I was no longer lead pastor, but campus pastor. No big deal, right?
That transition was five years ago, and I’m going to skip talking about my time in between for now, and move to last Sunday. February 16, 2020 was just another day, and a friend who has been on this journey with me since 2007 (and even before that, technically) led worship with his daughter. The church I now pastor is small and quaint, and is more used to singing “Amazing Grace” than Hillsong’s “Good Grace”. The average attendance is 60-70 and so is the average age.
But as I sat and heard the sound of voices singing Sunday’s songs – something I could never do with the loud music of my last 15 years – I understood that God had brought me right where he wanted me. Listening to voices of 7 and 70 year old friends worshiping Jesus, I realized once again my calling was not the number of people in the church, but the number of people who felt like they were part of my Christian family.
You see, on Sunday I was reminded that sometimes the thing you have is the thing you are supposed to have, and when you drive past the thing you have for something you don’t, many times you’ll come to the place where you wish you had what you once had. For what you thought you wanted was something you really didn’t.
All that to say, when you pastor a church or are looking for a church, don’t stop until you find a place where the fellowship – true Christian family fellowship – is more important than the organization, and the family is more important than the Sunday service. I’m not saying production is wrong, I’m simply letting you know in the end, you’ll be happier with the people who have been in your life than the lights that might be in your face.