Welcome to Can This Work In A Small Church!

This is a podcast

  • by small church leaders
  • for small church leaders
  • about small church leadership

Available on all major podcast platforms, including:

APPLE SPOTIFY STITCHER AMAZON MUSIC | iHEART RADIO | GOOGLE PLAY 

Just click on the link for your preferred podcast platform. Episodes are available monthly. Hosted by Karl Vaters.

EPISODES

Click any drop-down for more info or to listen to the episode.

Karl Vaters interviews Austin Savage about a subject that many of us have seen only through a negative lens. Namely, marketing.

Austin helps us see that when it’s done right, marketing is simply making sure your message gets put into the marketplace (that is, out to the general public) effectively.

You may know Austin from the work he did with 95Network.com, including several years co-hosting the 95Podcast with Dale Sellers. Recently, he established Austin Savage & Co. to help churches with creating content and using media in the church.

In this conversation, Austin and Karl talk about

  • The difference between marketing and promotion/advertising
  • How to put the content your church is already creating into the marketplace in creative ways
  • How to get started without costing any money

So, your church has a Facebook page? In a small church, that should be enough of an online presence, right? Wrong.

It finally happened! The answer to the question, “Can This Work In A Small Church?” isn’t “yes”! (Well, not entirely, anyway.) Find out why as Karl interviews Josh Givens about why having a Facebook page isn’t enough, no matter what size your church may be.

Topics include:

  • The importance of getting online
  • Why we must stay connected to the people we meet there
  • Why we must invest money and time to own online real estate (a website)
  • The importance of the pastor’s personal online presence
  • How much your church communicates before people step inside the building

Josh is the Communications Director for 614Ministries.org and for Northside Bible Church, a healthy small congregation in the outskirts of Mobile Alabama.

Have you ever considered the parallels between fighting fires and pastoring a church? Of course you have – metaphorically.

In this episode Karl interviews Jon Sanders, who has literally done both. And the lessons he shares about those parallels are really helpful, especially for rural and smaller congregations.
 

Jon is the founder of SmallTownBigChurch.com, co-host of the EntrePastors podcast, and author of Rural Church RESCUE: A Call to Restore Healthy Churches to Rural North America.

The conversation covers the principles Jon learned as a firefighter to help churches better understand how to do ministry that matters.

An interview Dr. Vincent E. Gil, the author of A Christian’s Guide Through the Gender Revolution: Gender, Cisgender, Transgender, and Intersex.

Dr. Gil taught human sexuality and counseled at a conservative Christian college for 38 years. He has been a consultant on sexual issues for church leaders and denominations, and is himself a licensed minister.

This is a sensitive subject that often causes division, or gets ignored due to some of the complexity and concerns. In this conversation Dr. Gil and I talk about how to understand the current “gender moment” and negotiate a better way than taking sides on issues.

Our conversation addresses issues of concern to pastors and provides a dialogue on how to approach varied sex/gender concerns in congregants and beyond.

An interview with Jeff Hamilton, founder of Dad Academy. We talk about the importance of helping men become the dad they want to be by becoming at least as intentional in their parenting as they are in their job.

Topics include:

  • Why “Dadding” is so important and so challenging
  • The importance of having an intentional plan
  • The impact of building a positive culture in your home by creating a more Christ-like value system

A special bonus episode of Can This Work In A Small Church? in which I introduce you to our next podcast project, a limited series that’s not just for church leaders, but for church members.

It’s called the Bible-Reading Coach, and it’s designed to help anyone read through the Bible in a year. We want to help you as you lead your church members to become more biblically literate, and reading the Bible for themselves in an essential step.

In this introductory episode I walk you through how this new podcast will work, including:

  • The three biggest reasons most people who start reading the Bible don’t finish it
  • How this podcast fixes those problems
  • How to make it from Genesis all the way to Revelation this time

Peyton Jones is a church planter and church planting specialist. He’s written several books, most recently, Church Plantology: The Art and Science of Planting Churches, which is the basis for this conversation.

Peyton and I talk about a lot of issues regarding church planting, but mostly about how most of our common perceptions of church planting are built on a faulty foundation. Not a church planter? Don’t let that stop you from listening. There’s a lot in this for every church leader.

Peyton has such a passion for the church, but I love that he has his priorities on order. That it’s about biblical principles before business ideas, listening to where God is leading you, not trying to copy what others are doing, and making disciples before planting churches. If we do this, a lot of churches who didn’t think they could plant, actually can, and a lot of existing churches can actually learn something about their own church situation by applying “so old they’re new” church planting principles from scripture.

Jason is the founder of the Both/And seminars which helps churches of all sizes create a better worship experience for both the online audience and the in-person congregation.

In this conversation, Karl Vaters talks to Jason about how a church of any size can use online and in-person church to make each a better experience for worshipers. If you’re having a hard time with your online experience, or even if you’re doubtful about its value listen to Jason’s heart, his experience and his ideas, including…

  1. How online worship has gone from being expensive and rare to a common and essential aspect of church ministry – leaving many of us to play catch-up.
  2. How to ensure that the online church experience doesn’t to detract from in-person worship, but can add to it.
  3. The need to readjust the goal of church from getting people in the room to getting the message out.
  4. The fact that the main roadblock to a high-quality online/in-person experience isn’t money, it’s intentionality.

Karl and Matt talk about some of the biggest recent issues in these important areas – you know, the things we hate to deal with, but need to take care of. Thankfully, Matt knows how to talk about them in compelling, clear and applicable ways.

This conversation will help you know that you and your church are not alone if you’re facing these issues, where you can go to get help, and how to be proactive instead of waiting for something bad to happen.

Bob has a heart for Jesus, for the Gospel, for all kinds of people, and for the role of the small congregation in fulfilling God’s mission.

In this podcast, we have a free-wheeling conversation that touches on many subjects, all of which can help every church and every church leader.

Some of Bob’s encouragement for small churches includes this helpful advice:

  1. Find a need God is calling us to reach
  2. Connect that need to the current DNA of our church
  3. Love people in Jesus’ name
  4. Change our thinking and our structures to match what God is doing now

Gary Garcia and I have another conversation. This time, we talk about Pastoral Transition from a unique persective.

I was Gary’s lead pastor for 25 years, then we transitioned to Gary being the lead pastor, while I stayed on the pastoral staff with him.

In this episode Gary and I talk about

  • Why that happened
  • How we did it
  • How it’s been going since

Some key points about making a successful pastoral transition will include:

  1. We need to know God is calling us to do it, even if it’s outside our comfort zone.
  2. We must spend the necessary time to talk, think and pray about it. It’s better to do it well than do it fast.
  3. Each needs to support the other. The former lead pastor must truly let go of control, and the new pastor needs to honor the past without being intimidated by it.

Gary Garcia and I have a unique relationship. We’ve worked together at the same church for 29 years. For the first 25 years I was his lead pastor. For the last 4 years he’s been my lead pastor. Yes, at the same church.

Because there’s so much ground to cover, we’re taking two episodes to do it. In this episode we talk about

  • Keys to staying in ministry long-term
  • Embracing change to keep things fresh
  • Working together as your lives and your roles change
  • Advantages of staying in ministry – and in the same church – for the long haul

Tom Harris is the co-author of Soaring Between Pastors: 8 Actions to Thrive During a Pastoral Transition. He also serves as the president of IPM (Interim Pastor Ministries).

He and I talk about the importance of interim pastorates, including how an intentional interim can help prepare a church to hit the ground running when they call a new pastor.

This is a hugely important subject. I encourage you to send this podcast to:

  • Any church that’s experiencing an interim season
  • Any seasoned pastor who might want to serve in this vital field
  • Anyone who oversees a group of churches

Rich Brown is the author of Extended Stays: A Closer Look at Longer Pastorates. He has served for decades as a pastor and in Christian higher education. Currently he serves with IPM (Interim Pastor Ministries).

In this conversation, we talk about why long-term pastorates are good for the church, the pastor, the pastor’s family, and for the community we’re called to reach.

Including:

  • Some shocking stats about pastoral tenure
  • Why a series of short-term stays can be problematic
  • How to make a long-term stay effective for everyone
  • How to grow deeper through transition without relocation

and more.

In addition to being a small church pastor and authoring/co-authoring several books, Matt Henslee has recently been appointed to leadership in his denomination (Southern Baptist Conference) on both a regional and national level.

We talk about how this happened and how important it is for all church groups, including denominations, to make a place for small church pastors in leadership.

While Matt never sought out these positions, he did do some things that put him into a place where he was recognized for his contributions. His advice for those who may be called to similar positions from a small church includes

  1. Do solid ministry in your current church
  2. Show up – get engaged in the process
  3. Offer positive ideas and solutions in your denominational meetings

Some of Matt’s books

His recommended website

Matt’s Info

Jean Morgan, a small church pastor who wrote a Masters thesis about the correlation between a pastor’s personality and the size of the church they serve.

In this conversation, Jean and I talk about

  • The way he made this assessment
  • The initial results
  • The possible impact of his results for us as small church pastors

What we discover is that our effectiveness in small church ministry is less about our personality type and far more about

  1. Our feelings of effectiveness
  2. Listening closely to our calling, not to the outside voices that tell us we need to hit certain numbers
  3. How God can use any personality type to accomplish his will for his church

 
  •  

Karl interviews Lori Andrews, Ed.D. about trauma, its effect on the brain, and how to use this information as we lead through challenging times.

Topics include:

  • How can we help people cope with the constant flow of low-to-moderate-level trauma?
  • The value of consistency in worship services.
  • How to help kids prepare for children’s services.
  • The neurobiological benefits of corporate worship.

Links From This Episode

Karl interviews Drew Dyck about Writing for Ministry, including

  • The differences between preaching and writing
  • How to get started writing for ministry publications
  • What book publishers are looking for (including from small church pastors)

Drew has spent decades as a writer and editor for major church publishersand is the author of several books, most recently, Your Future Self Will Thank You: Secrets to Self-Control from the Bible and Brain Science (A Guide for Sinners, Quitters, and Procrastinators).

Links from this episode:

Greg Atkinson is one the world’s leading voices in First Impressions for churches. He also wrote “Secrets of a Secret Shopper: Reaching and Keeping Church Guests” as a guide for small churches.

In this conversation, Karl Vaters interviews Greg about

  • The importance of an online presence
  • How everyone in a small church is on the First Impressions team
  • Why small churches may need to work harder on First Impressions than our big church friends
  • A few tips for small churches to increase their first impression with little or no money

The second of a two-part series in which I share lessons from hundreds of small church pastors about responding, recovering and thriving through a challenging season.

In this episode I cover the four essential principles that have made the differences between

  1. Churches that struggled the most during the pandemic, and will continue to struggle in the future, and
  2. Churches that have stayed healthy, become stronger and are likely to thrive into the future.

There’s a lot of talk lately about recovering from the very difficult series of events we’ve all experienced over the past two years. And understandably so. It will take years for us to get a grip on what has happened, what’s still happening and how it’s still changing everything.

In this two-part series, Karl Vaters shares several lessons about responding, recovering and thriving through a challenging season. This information comes from hundreds of conversations he’s had with small church pastors, denominational leaders and others over the last 18+ months.

In this episode (Part 1) Karl covers:

  • The two dangerous extremes people have found themselves in – and the path to health again
  • The two keys for churches to recover and thrive in the coming years
  • The three most important principles for small churches moving forward

Craig Forrest has spent decades shooting and editing film and video for ministries and network TV. He’s passionate about helping people communicate the message of Jesus in a compelling way. In this interview I talk with him about video ideas and tips that can be used in any size of church on a limited or nonexistent budget.

I especially love Craig’s ideas about getting out of the church building to shoot video that catches people’s attention in a crowded media landscape.

A free-flowing conversation about the importance of Small Church Conferences. Ironically, it’s our biggest podcast in several ways:

  • Our longest, at just over an hour.
  • The most guests ever (four plus me and my wife, Shelley, for a total of six people).
  • Easily has more laughs-per-minute than anything we’ve done yet.

The conversation covers:

  • Why they started their small church conferences
  • What big church conferences can do to include the needs and voices of small church leaders
  • First steps if you want to host a small church conference

Click here for more info, including show notes.

This is a great conversation about the important subject of Decision Fatigue. You know, that exhaustion you feel when there are Just. Too. Many. Decisions. To. Be. Made. And. No. One. Else. To. Make. Them!

Because of Ira’s ministry experience, we were also able to compare and contrast the different challenges faced by small church leaders in urban, suburban and rural contexts.

And be sure to listen through to the Lightning Round at the end. Ira’s comments about how older and newer generations deal with authority figures is leadership gold!

A church’s culture is “the unwritten set of rules that governs everything a church does.”

In a big church, the pastor and staff set the culture, but in a small church it’s set by the long-time regular members and attenders – even if they don’t know they’re doing it.

In this episode Karl Vaters talks about the three steps that will help a small church pastor lead a church through a culture shift.

  1. Show them you understand their culture
  2. Show them what you appreciate about it
  3. Then you will get limited permission to participate with them to lead and shape it

An interview with Doug Bursch about his new book, Posting Peace. It’s all about how social media is impacting us so much that it even changes how we see ourselves and relate to each other. But Doug also offers hope for how we can be peacemakers and reconcilers in our online behavior.

As the first interview episode of this podcast, I introduce the Lightning Round questions, with questions and answers that are both profound and a little bit of fun.

Yes, small churches can be strong, healthy and effective. In this opening episode, I look at the three main issues that must be in place in order for that to happen.

  1. Realize you can be effective.
  2. Discover how small churches function differently from big churches.
  3. Understand and use the unique DNA of your small church for God’s glory.

Why would someone create a podcast called “Can This Work In A Small Church?” Because small churches are different. A lot of what we learn from our big church friends needs to be tweaked for the small church environment. And sometimes they need to be done completely different.

In this episode your host, Karl Vaters, introduces you to what this podcast is about.

Want More?

If you subscribe to our FREE WEEKLY NEWSLETTER you’ll get

  • Podcast updates
  • Articles
  • Upcoming seminar news
  • Resource recommendations
  • and more!

If you become a Financial Supporter for as little as $3 a month, you can help us continue to put these resources into the hands of the ministries that need them the most.

Feedback

If you have any ideas for subjects guests that might fit this podcast, let us know.

Credits

Producer
Veronica Beaver | KarlVaters.com

Music composed and performed by
Jack Wilkins | JackWilkinsMusic.com

Podcast logo created by
Solomon Joy | Joyetic.com

Correspondence
Shelley Vaters | KarlVaters.com

Tell A Friend!

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on email