Part-Time Youth Pastor, Full-Time Hero: The Benefits of Working at a Small Church

in Grow on March 20, 2013

Deeper Relationships: We know small groups are the way to go because of the relationships that can be built. Well guess what? When you work at a small church, with a small group of students, then your entire youth ministry is one awesome small group! When you have a small youth group, you get the chance to have a deep relationship with each student in your ministry. You have numerous opportunities to speak the word of God into your students’ lives, which means you have a better chance at making a major impact on those student’s lives. Easier access to schools: This may not always be the case, but when you minister in a small town with only one school, you get the chance to meet students on their ground. And the best part is, most administrators have no problem with you being at their school. Furthermore, these administrators truly appreciate what you offer to their students and are more willing to work with you. Moreover, as an added bonus, since there’s nothing going on in a small town, the event you put on for students has the capabilities to draw in a serious crowd for you to expose students to the Gospel! A chance to exercise different gifts: At a small church it truly is all hands on deck. You may be the youth pastor, but expect to fill so many other roles. And that’s a great thing because it gives you the chance to use gifts you may not have even known about. Plus, it can cause you to develop the gifts you already have, and expose weaker gifts that need to be worked on. Small churches are truly valuable when it comes to developing a well rounded minister. More Flexibility: Small churches are awesome because you can have way more spur of the moment activities, because you only have a few students. Now this doesn’t mean you don’t plan events, but when and how those events take place are more flexible. Also, since the events are smaller, they require less work and it gives you the chance to focus on what really matters: students. Better care for staff: Small churches know they don’t have the ability to pay their ministers the money they deserve, however, what they lack in fiances they make up in ministry care. When I was a bi-vocational minister, I was still working on my undergrad. With no prompting from me, my church automatically chose to pay for my school. They even celebrated staff appreciation month and they gave me my first commentary set! When Christmas came around, they made sure I had a nice bonus. Those are some of the many things a small church will do for their ministry staff. Willingness to give to students: Small churches love students. They recognize how valuable they are and what they offer to the church. If a student needs support to go to a camp or mission trip, you can guarantee someone in your church will step up and make sure that student doesn’t miss out. The willingness to give at a small church is unbelievable and it is a blessing to serve at a church who is willing support their students. Chance to gain experience: If you believe you’re called to ministry, but have zero experience, stop trying to  apply to a medium or large church because they’re not going to hire you, unless its under very special circumstances. Instead, apply to a small church and start getting your feet wet. Small churches are known for taking chances on young, inexperienced ministers and giving them the opportunity to serve. Now this doesn’t mean you should view small churches as stepping stones, but if you’re willing to open your eyes, there are plenty of churches ready for you to serve at. I’m still in awe over the fact my previous church took a chance on a young 20 year old, who was only halfway through with college, and had six months as a youth ministry intern, and gave me the opportunity to love kids. In the end, small church work is hard and will put anyone through the fire, but at the same time, will refine you into a resourceful youth minister that can make a big impact on a student’s life. If you’re ready to serve in ministry, but don’t know where to start, I encourage you to look into a small church. They’re like a diamond in the rough, but still a diamond nonetheless.

If you work or have served in a small church, what else do you believe are the benefits of working in one?

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Austin McCann at 2:08 pm

Great thoughts! Right after college I started working at a small church and enjoyed my experience there. I agree with the stuff you mentioned as benefits of a small church, but somewhat disagree on small churches taking better care of staff. I know I cannot speak for every small church, but the small churches I have been a part of didn’t take good care of their staff. Usually the pay was very low, no benefits, was expected to to endure ministry because it’s “tough,” and my wife was seen as a co-equal in ministry with me. Now working at a large church I have better pay (I know it’s not about the money), great benefits, am demanded to take a day off to take care of myself, and my wife is not expected to do any ministry she doesn’t want to do. That’s just my experience and no it does not speak for everyone that has been or is in a small church.

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Joshua Fuentes at 3:07 pm

I understand your disagreement Austin. Not all small churches will take care of their staff, nor big churches as well. For every story filled with joy, there’s always a story filled with anguish and heartache. Even with my church doing those things for me, I still went through hell! However I am thankful that God has allowed me to be a part of churches that will do what they can to take care of their staff members.

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Austin McCann at 2:08 pm

Great thoughts! Right after college I started working at a small church and enjoyed my experience there. I agree with the stuff you mentioned as benefits of a small church, but somewhat disagree on small churches taking better care of staff. I know I cannot speak for every small church, but the small churches I have been a part of didn’t take good care of their staff. Usually the pay was very low, no benefits, was expected to to endure ministry because it’s “tough,” and my wife was seen as a co-equal in ministry with me. Now working at a large church I have better pay (I know it’s not about the money), great benefits, am demanded to take a day off to take care of myself, and my wife is not expected to do any ministry she doesn’t want to do. That’s just my experience and no it does not speak for everyone that has been or is in a small church.

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Joshua Fuentes at 3:07 pm

I understand your disagreement Austin. Not all small churches will take care of their staff, nor big churches as well. For every story filled with joy, there’s always a story filled with anguish and heartache. Even with my church doing those things for me, I still went through hell! However I am thankful that God has allowed me to be a part of churches that will do what they can to take care of their staff members.

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Keith Parker at 2:28 pm

Awesome thoughts, Josh. I work in a larger church (about 800), but in a rural setting, and many of these things are very true in our context as well (ministry care, access to schools). And I think it’s so good to dispel the myth that a bigger church is somehow “better” or that a youth pastor at a larger church is somehow more called than one at a smaller church. Great job.

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Joshua Fuentes at 3:04 pm

Thanks Keith and I completely agree with you. Rural churches get a lot of these benefits as well. Plus, depending on how big your rural community is, you may end up at a big church. I once interviewed for a church in a town of 5,000 and the church had 600 people attending on a Sunday morning. That just blew my mind!

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Keith Parker at 2:29 pm

Haha, Hazelwood doesn’t even officially have a “town” or post office. Had 1145 for Easter, average 800ish. It is the weirdest thing I’ve ever seen. God is so good.

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Keith Parker at 2:28 pm

Awesome thoughts, Josh. I work in a larger church (about 800), but in a rural setting, and many of these things are very true in our context as well (ministry care, access to schools). And I think it’s so good to dispel the myth that a bigger church is somehow “better” or that a youth pastor at a larger church is somehow more called than one at a smaller church. Great job.

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Joshua Fuentes at 3:04 pm

Thanks Keith and I completely agree with you. Rural churches get a lot of these benefits as well. Plus, depending on how big your rural community is, you may end up at a big church. I once interviewed for a church in a town of 5,000 and the church had 600 people attending on a Sunday morning. That just blew my mind!

Reply
Keith Parker at 2:29 pm

Haha, Hazelwood doesn’t even officially have a “town” or post office. Had 1145 for Easter, average 800ish. It is the weirdest thing I’ve ever seen. God is so good.

Reply

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