Central Baptist Church of Southington Connecticut


A Big Fish in a Small Pond

  • Jim Townsley
  • Feb 1, 2019

On rare occasions new churches start with mature believers but most often a new church attracts people who are newly saved or who have struggles with personal issues. There is nothing wrong with reaching the poor and the down and out since the purpose of a new church is to win the lost, reclaim backsliders and encourage those that have been forgotten. The good news is that these people are often very receptive, but the bad news is very often they have a low level of character and they will probably require a lot of attention, just like a new baby demands constant attention.

It is completely normal for a new church plant to consist of baby Christians and sometimes even carnal Christians which makes finding leaders a challenge. As a result sometimes the pastor must use people that are barely qualified and it may be a stretch for them to be considered for such a role. Some of the questions that concern a new preacher are counting the offerings, writing checks, leading the singing, playing the piano, working in the nursery or even take the offering. Some people will accept this new responsibility and take it seriously while others will be unfaithful and halfhearted. It is always difficult to determine ahead of time whom you can count on and who will grow into the position.

There will be key people in the church from the very beginning that make up the church’s core. These people are very special and they will be a blessing to you and the church. However as the church grows some of these early leaders will not function well because the church has outgrown them and their job has become too much for them. When the church was small their leadership role fit them well but the church may have outgrown them and their capabilities.

Sometimes people function well in the small church environment but as the church grows and more capable leaders are added to the church they can become intimidated. It is an unfortunate truth that some of the people who helped you from the very beginning can become intimidated so easily. The hope is that the early leaders will grow along with the development of the church but when they don’t it can become an issue that must be attended to. The issue is a spiritual one. True leaders should see the role where they can best serve for the good of the church. Unfortunately some people exhibit petty jealousies when they are no longer the primary leader. You might say they are a big fish in a small pond.

A wise pastor should be aware of this dynamic and try to prevent anyone from getting discouraged and leaving the church when possibly all that is needed is to determine a more fitting position for them. There are many things that can be done to prevent hurt feelings but ignoring the issue is not one of them. If a person needs to be replaced by someone more qualified try to find another job for the person that is being replaced. Emphasize how important this new job will be and how they are needed in this new role. Transitioning people to positions that fit their talents is a skill every new preacher must hone.

A good pastor must develop the skill of working with a variety of people with various skills. The key is to keep everyone looking to the Lord and working well with each other. A big fish in a small pond presents a challenge that can be dealt with in a positive way. Spiritual people solve problems while carnal people create problems. Strengthen the spirituality of the members of the church and there will be fewer problems when transitions occur.