Small Church Pastors and Ministry Leaders: We See You!
Last month, we published an article about the annual report regarding the fastest growing large United Methodist Churches for 2019. We publish a congratulatory article every year for the alumni who are leaders in those churches. We do not apologize for honoring those people, as they have worked hard and applied all they learned here at Asbury in order to achieve that recognition. We believe in their hearts and know that though success is not necessarily best measured in numbers, the numerical growth they have seen is an indicator of their huge investment into the Kingdom of God.
With that being said, we also do not want to leave out the unsung heroes of our Asbury Theological Seminary family!
We know that the vast majority of you are being quietly faithful, year after year, decade after decade, investing in the lives of one, two, and ten. Every soul matters in the Kingdom of God, and we need to pay attention to the ones who are faithful in the small things too. Small church pastors are so often overlooked, and their work is every bit as essential. A church of 30 can be much more healthy and successful in spreading the love of God than a church of 500 or 5000 sometimes!
And yes – you missionaries, ministry leaders, Christian authors and publishers, counselors and clinicians, Christian school teachers, and stay-at-home homeschool parents – you deserve to be seen too! We haven’t forgotten you, and your Alumni Office staff prays for you regularly – typically more often! We see you, we love you, and we want to support you! We are so proud of the work you are doing, bringing the love of God to the world. You are an inspiration to us, and you are at the core of why we do the things we do. We know it is hard out there on the front lines, dogging it out day after day, feeling invisible.
So to all those small church pastors and non-clergy alumni, we leave you with the following words, so you will know how important and beautiful you are to us. You are not invisible or forgotten, and you beautiful daisies and violets are every bit as important as the roses and lilies.
[…] I understood that every flower created by Him is beautiful, that the brilliance of the rose and the whiteness of the lily do not lessen the perfume of the violet or the sweet simplicity of the daisy. I understood that if all the lowly flowers wished to be roses, nature would lose its springtide beauty, and the fields would no longer be enamelled with lovely hues. And so it is in the world of souls, Our Lord’s living garden. He has been pleased to create great Saints who may be compared to the lily and the rose, but He has also created lesser ones, who must be content to be daisies or simple violets flowering at His Feet, and whose mission it is to gladden His Divine Eyes when He deigns to look down on them. And the more gladly they do His Will the greater is their perfection.
I understood this also, that God’s Love is made manifest as well in a simple soul which does not resist His grace as in one more highly endowed. In fact, the characteristic of love being self-abasement, if all souls resembled the holy Doctors who have illuminated the Church, it seems that God in coming to them would not stoop low enough. But He has created the little child, who knows nothing and can but utter feeble cries, and the poor savage who has only the natural law to guide him, and it is to their hearts that He deigns to stoop. These are the field flowers whose simplicity charms Him; and by His condescension to them Our Saviour shows His infinite greatness. As the sun shines both on the cedar and on the floweret, so the Divine Sun illumines every soul, great and small, and all correspond to His care—just as in nature the seasons are so disposed that on the appointed day the humblest daisy shall unfold its petals.
St. Thérèse of Lisieux, The Story of a Soul