Karl Vaters, Small Church Big Deal Conference – 2016

Session 1: Redefining Success In Ministry

What is The Grasshopper Myth?

TGM box sale 250cThe 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


Small is not a problem, a virtue or an excuse


Many big church principles don’t translate well to a small church context

BC SC circles

Big church principles center on process, systems & curriculum

Small church principles center on relationships, culture & history


It’s OK to want to be your church’s pastor


Session 2: Why Is My Church So Weird?

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


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



  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



Does the Church Need a John Adams’ Inauguration Moment?


Session 3: Becoming a Great Small Church

It’s OK if a pastor’s vision is helping others fulfill their vision


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


Leverage the relational power of small churches to make disciples


Small churches get to emphasize mentoring over curriculum


A 5-Step Small Church Discipleship Process (That Won’t Wear Out the Pastor)

  1. Meet with every new believer and potential leader
  2. Determine how they learn and grow
  3. Connect them with a mature believer and the right resources
  4. Help them plug Into an active ministry that utilizes their gifts
  5. As people mature, call on them to start leading others


Use the Jethro system to find and raise up leaders

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


Emphasize “come and do” events over “come and watch” events


When thinking small saved the world

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