The Church of God in Michigan

Small Church Essentials

Flint, MI | May 20, 2023

Index of Sessions

Session 1 | Redefining Success In Ministry


What is a small church?

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 church ministry:

  • Reality #1: 80-90% of churches will never be larger than 250 people
  • Reality #2: Virtually all 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

Small is not a problem, a virtue or an excuse

Bigger fixes nothing

The church needs to embrace its “long tail

Pastoring a small church is not a penalty for doing something wrong

Session 2 | Big Churches, Small Churches – 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?

Responsive Design must be the standard for all church resources from now on

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

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 it behaves

Big church leadership emphasizes process, systems & programs

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

Session 3 | 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

  1. Great  Commandment
  2. Great Commission
  3. Equipping God’s People

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

  • Churches can handle change, but they don’t like to be surprised
  • Give the leaders time to ponder big decisions

Session 4 | Leading The Post-Pandemic Church

Keys to post-pandemic recovery

Churches that thrived during & after the pandemic had

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

We’re all experiencing multiple levels of severe trauma

When people are in trauma they can’t hear explanations

  • They need familiarity and stability

Everyone has a default reaction to trauma

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

Recognize your own trauma first

  • Don’t let your trigger become your truth

When times are normal, leaders inspire change

The Church Lobby Podcast

Conversations on Faith & Ministry

Every two weeks, Karl interviews a church leader about the topics that concern pastors, especially those who minister in a small church context.

Most of our real-life conversations about faith and ministry happen in church lobbies, both as a congregation and pastor-to-pastor. In The Church Lobby podcast, that’s what we do.

Available on all major platforms, including: