ELCA March 2016

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

TGM box sale 250c

Three undeniable realities of pastoral ministry:

  • Reality #1: 80-90% of pastors will never pastor a church 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 pastor a Small Church well, without settling for less


Bigger Fixes Nothing

Don’t fall for IKEA Envy

Over 1 billion people choose to worship Jesus in Small Churches

We need to do small church well before trying to become a big church

Small is not a problem, a virtue or an excuse

Bigger is not a plan, a goal or a solution

Big changes come from small places


Thinking Like a Great Small Church

BC SC circlesMany big church principles don’t translate well to a Small Church context

Many Small Church principles are specific to each congregation

People will come to Small Churches, but they won’t give up quality to do so


Big church principles center on process, systems & curriculum

Small Church principles center on relationships, culture & history


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

Front-load the value: feature what you do well

Move out of a destination mindset and into a process orientation

Your church is big enough


Becoming a Great Small Church

Sweet spot circlesTurn Your Church Around By Listening to God Together

  1. The Sweet Spot: God, the Church & the Pastor’s Hearts Meet
  2. The Default: God & the Pastor, but not the Church
  3. The Listening Place: God & the Church, but not the Pastor
  4. The Danger Zone: The Church & the Pastor, but not God

Innovation happens with methods, not style or theology

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

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


The Cornerstone Story: Don’t just do ministry in the church, do ministry from the church


Have too much building? Invite ministries into the church

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

There will always be a place for great Small Churches


Karl Vaters • CornerstoneFV.com 

NewSmallChurch.com • ChristianityToday.com/Karl-Vaters

Facebook.com/NewSmallChurch • @KarlVaters