Center for Congregations

Taught by Karl Vaters

Session 1: Redefining Success In Ministry


What is The Grasshopper Myth?

The false impression that our Small Church ministry is less than what God says it is because we compare ourselves with others.

All the people we saw there are of great size. …We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them. – Numbers 13:32-33


Three undeniable realities of pastoral ministry:

  • Reality #1: 80-90% of churches will never be larger than 250 people
  • Reality #2: 99.9% of pastors will pastor a small church for at least some time in our ministry
  • Reality #3: You can lead a small church well, without settling for less


Don’t fall for IKEA Envy


Bigger fixes nothing


Over 1 billion people choose to worship God in small churches


Small is not a problem, a virtue or an excuse



Session 2: Big or Small? What’s the Difference?


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?


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

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


Big church principles center on process, systems & curriculum


Hearing God’s Heart Together

1. The Sweet Spot: God, the church and the pastor’s hearts meet

2. The Default: God and the pastor, but not the church

3. The Listening Place: God and the church, but not the pastor

4. The Danger Zone: The Church and the pastor, but not God


Big changes come from small places



Session 3: Becoming a Great Small Church


Small Church Essentials

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


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


Discover what your church does well, then do it on purpose


Don’t put a mission statement into words until you’re already putting it into action


Do ministry from the church, not just in the church


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


When thinking small saved the world • • @KarlVaters•