After 36-years as a full-time senior pastor, I recently retired. When I say "retired" I don't mean that I left the ministry. I am still very involved, just not as a full-time senior pastor. During the 36-years, I never pastored a numerically small church; or at least one that stayed numerically small. The four churches I pastored were all suburban churches. Since my last Sunday "on the job", which was three months ago, I have preached somewhere every Sunday, and some Wednesdays. My eyes have been opened to a whole new world, that of the small rural church, and in some cases the small city church. While my entire ministry has been focused on church growth, the churches I have been preaching in do not have the phrase "church growth" in their vocabulary. For the most part, the churches have ranged in size from 15 in attendance to 60. I have found that I have to minister to these churches with an entirely different mindset from that which I have been accustomed. Today I preached to a crowd of 18 people, which included my wife and me. The majority of the people were 70-85 years old. The crowd included three men. There were no children or teens. When you have been used to preaching to a crowd of hundreds in a vibrant church, it's quite different to switch gears for a handful of people who comprise a church that is on life support with no hope for life. I doubt that a lost person has attended most of these churches in years. Therefore, evangelistic sermons fall on deaf ears. Sermons intended to motivate personal spiritual growth seem to be unheeded. Most of the people in attendance have been hearing these sermons for decades, and they remain unchanged. Sermons to motivate the people to witness to the lost or to invite unchurched people to church are fruitless. They have little or no contact with lost or unchurched people. I have sensed that to the majority of the people it's all about attending church, reading the Sunday School lesson from a quarterly (I have attended Sunday School class three times. In all three cases the "teachers" read the lessons word-for word.), giving an offering, and having two "revival meetings" per year, one in the spring or summer and one in the fall. I am not being critical, but I have to ask myself how these churches devolved into such a pitiful state. My questions are: 1) Is there any hope of survival for these churches? 2) If you pastor such a church, do you struggle with keeping a positive attitude? 3) If you pastor such a church, please share your heart about your church with me and others on this board. 4) What is your approach to pastoring such a church? Your answers will give me some insight as to how to best minister to these churches when I am called on to supply their pulpits. Thanks in advance for your input.