Small Is Beautiful Conference

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


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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

Over 1 billion people choose to worship Jesus in small churches

Big changes come from small places


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

Small is not a problem, a virtue or an excuse

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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

Small church principles center on relationships, culture & history


Session 3: Why Is My Church So Weird?

Hearing God’s Heart 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


Casting vision is different in a small church

The Acts 2 Model for Vision-Casting



How I Was Taught Vision-Casting



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


Questions to Ponder:

1: How could the Acts 2 model help my pastoral ministry?

2: What can I do to reverse the flow of information from the congregation to the leadership?

3: How can my church and I start listening to God together?

4: What can I do to start increasing the size of my churches God/Church/Pastor Sweet Spot?



Session 4: Becoming a Great Small Church

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


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


Emphasize mentoring over curriculum


Use the Jethro system to raise up mentors

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


Be willing to haul rocks in your Volkswagen

  • Use the building to serve people, not vice versa


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


There will always be a place for great small churches


Session 5: Your Church Is Big Enough

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


Don’t let your experience stifle your adaptability


Challenges for the current and future church

  • The way people give is changing
  • The way people commit is changing
  • The way people attend is changing
  • The way people trust is changing
  • Brand loyalty is dead


When thinking small saved the world


Questions to ponder:

1: What does my church do well, that we could do more of?

2: What does my church do poorly, that we should do less of?

3: Does my church have more of a destination mindset, or a process orientation? Express as a percentage. (eg 50/50)

  • Is this a healthy balance? If not, what can I do to help bring it into a better balance?



Karl Vaters • • • @KarlVaters