CEM Catalyst Conference | 2020

Taught by Karl Vaters

SESSION 1: Three Ways a Small Church Can Be an Effective Church


1. Realize your small church can be an effective church

“Over 90% of our churches are under 200, over 80% are under 100”

  • First Reaction: Oh no!
  • Second Reaction: So what?
  • Final Reaction: Now what?

People will come to small churches, but they won’t give up quality to do so


2. Discover how small churches function differently from big churches

Many big church principles don’t translate well to a small church context

The law of large numbers: the bigger the crowd, the more predictably they behave


3. Understand and use the unique DNA of your small church for God’s glory

The smaller the crowd, the more impact each person has – for good and bad


Big churches prioritize process, systems & programs

(Need help changing your church culture? I recommend Dirt Matters, by Jim Powell.)


Don’t do what our founders did, think like our founders thought


SESSION 2: How to Discover and Use What Your Church Does Well


The pastoral Prime Mandate: to equip God’s people for works of service (Eph 4:11-12)

The three essential elements of a healthy, effective church: The Great Commandment, Great Commission and Equipping God’s people

  • Unhealthy churches aren’t doing the Great Commandment, the Great Commission or equipping God’s people 
  • Loving, but ineffective churches are doing the Great Commandment, but not the Great Commission or equipping God’s people 
  • Overworked pastor and passive members when we’re doing the Great Commandment and the Great Commission, but are not equipping God’s people
  • Healthy, effective churches and pastors are doing all three

Do what you know to do, pay attention to what works, and why


After you discover what your church does well, do it on purpose


Use the “closet rule” for ministries: Don’t add a new one until you’ve dropped an old one

  • What does your church do well, that you would like to do more of?
  • What does your church do poorly, that you would like to do less of?

Move out of a destination mindset and into a process orientation


SESSION 3: COVID-19 – What’s Working In Churches That Are Thriving

Smaller churches need to:

  1. Respond Contextually
  2. Minister Personally
  3. Prepare Continually

Churches that are responding and thriving during the pandemic have:

  1. Resources in reserve
  2. Team-based leadership
  3. Adaptability
  4. Unity

We’re all experiencing multiple levels of severe trauma

Denial >> Anger >> Bargaining >> Depression >> Acceptance

All the teaching from SESSION 3 is from this book.
  • Everyone has a default reaction to trauma

Recognize your own trauma first

  • Don’t let your trigger become your truth

When people are in trauma they can’t hear explanations

  • They need familiarity and stability

Post-COVID: use changes as springboard to simplification

  • Don’t restart ministries you wouldn’t start

When times are normal, leaders inspire change

When times are disruptive, leaders provide stability


SESSION 4: Finding & Mentoring Volunteers In Today’s (And Tomorrow’s) Small Church


For too many years, we’ve measured ministry “success” by church attendance

  • We have to shift our focus from attendance to influence

Equip the people you have to reach the people you don’t have


Start with one


Find leaders by looking for servants

  • It’s easier to teach a servant to lead than to teach a leader to serve

Use the Jethro system to raise up leaders

  • 10, 50, 100, 1,000
  • Look for Level 10 leaders, first

New generations will not build the kind of churches their parents built

  • Previous generations had relationships and built structures
  • This generation has structures and needs to build relationships


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