No Pastor = Growth!

It is amazing what people can do when they work together. Despite not having a pastor for three years, the congregation of First Baptist Church in Spearfish Pass in South Dakota has managed to grow and they are now getting ready to celebrate the Church’s 60th anniversary.

When the last pastor left there were only four members in the congregation. In the last three years it has grown to 40 parishioners. One member has described the Church as being “blessed.”

One of the reasons why it has been so difficult to find a pastor is because of its size and location. The community is relatively isolated and attracts more elderly parishioners.

“It’s hard to get people to come to a small town,” said Shelisa Davis, a member of the congregation.

Despite the problems, the people have gathered together to not only worship but also have managed to complete a much-needed renovation of the original sanctuary.  The work included repairing the foundation and installing a new furnace.

Not only was all the work completed but they didn’t have to go into debt to pay for it. With these upgrades the church’s next project is to plan its 60th anniversary, which will be celebrated in June.

What do you think?  Is this a plan/leadership structure that could help tranform the smaller, rural church?  Why did this work with this church?  And why do we not see more ‘totally lay led’ churches?


  • Dave Jacobs January 9, 2012 Reply

    This is truly an unusual story. First, unusual that a church of 4 would survive period, with or without a pastor. Second, that they would be able to grow while waiting for a pastor. Third, 4 – 40 in three years is pretty good growth no matter what the circumstances. I don’t think the answer is lay-led churches without pastors as it is lay-driven churches with pastor who are leading.

  • Pastor Shane January 9, 2012 Reply

    At the risk of being paranoid…. We are only hearing 10% of the story. No doubt what we have is true, but there is a whole book of details being left out. It’s a funny coin that doesn’t have 2 sides.

  • Dave January 9, 2012 Reply

    Brethren churches all over the globe grow and thrive without a paid pastor.

  • Dan Smith January 9, 2012 Reply

    Dave is right. I think that we place too much emphasis on pastors anyway, and I’m training to be one. Here’s the bottom line though: There were only four people. I would almost guarantee that, if there had been 40 people to start with, they would not be at 400 right now, for example. They’d probably be languishing without anyone guiding the various egos and ideas in the church.

  • Joe January 10, 2012 Reply

    I’ve visited several rural churches that were growing and/or successful without an ordained pastor. They met in rural school houses, community buildings, and homes. The people had a vision, close fellowship, and strong sense of pride, which were lost when they turned everything over to a pastor and formality.

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