Any given week in Jordan, MT may find me mowing grass or shoveling snow (depending on the season!), in the office doing sermon prep, on the ambulance, meeting with someone for Bible study, changing light bulbs, fixing someone’s Apple device, or on the road. This is just a taste of life in a small town “where you get 3 jobs for the price of 1.”
I first heard that phrase from a friend. He is the president of the ambulance service where I serve as an EMT. He is also the local bank president, a rancher, serves on many boards, and sometimes preaches at the Presbyterian church in town.
Small towns tend to be full of people who do multiple jobs so that the town can thrive. This transitions into churches in small towns. This is a good thing and should be encouraged.
Too much specialization leads to the “that’s not my job” mentality which will doom a small church. Here are a few reasons to encourage 3 jobs for the price of 1.
Highlights the big picture.
It is not uncommon to see arguments in church meetings when people are focused on individual ministries. When a member is involved in multiple aspects, they see the whole instead of a part. Being many parts of the whole emphasizes the greater church and helps members keep the Kingdom in mind.
Develops well-rounded volunteers.
When I worked for a major hospital in NC, part of the “team-member development” was to cross-train in other departments. This allowed a person the opportunity to learn the jobs of other employees. A well-rounded employee was better than a single task employee. Encouraging church members to get involved in multiple areas creates a more mature, well-rounded believer.
Creates stability in the church.
When a church is small, it really notices when someone leaves. In the past year, we have had several people move away from town. The “holes” left need to be filled. The stability created when many people can fill multiple roles allows the town or the church to continue.
This one may not be so obvious, but serving others can be humbling. In a small town, the businesses can’t always provide the services and luxuries of a city. Small churches can’t do ministries to the level and perfection of large churches. Sometimes, you hear about how (Large Church) does it. That is humbling, even if you remember that they have a dedicated full-time staff member for that ministry. Coming to terms with serving people with the resources God has provided is an eye-opening, humbling, experience. It is also life-changing.
One of the greatest blessings of pastoring a small church in a small town has been seeing our people step up, learn, and fill the many roles that are needed to fulfill God’s calling for our little church.
At JCBC, the treasurer is also the youth leader. The music leader also teaches a Sunday school class. The VBS director also leads the women’s bible study. We have people who clean, do building maintenance, and chaperone youth trips. Filling many roles is part of being in a small church and a small town.