Culture

Small Churches, Leadership And Culture: Karl Vaters Interviews William Vanderbloemen

William Vanderbloemen is the CEO and Founder of the Vanderbloemen Search Group, a company that works with churches to help them hire staff, plan for the future and more. Recently, William and I (Karl) did an interview exchange. He interviewed me for his podcast (click here) and I interviewed him for this blog post.

In this exchange, William expresses his appreciation for small churches and their leaders, talks about the importance of your church’s culture, and offers some great ideas and encouragement from his experiences working with hundreds of churches of all sizes.

Karl Vaters: You work with churches of all sizes. For many people, the advantages of big churches are obvious. What strengths do small churches have that they should lean in to?

William Vanderbloemen: Small is a four-letter word. People talk about small churches, and they don’t remember that what they mean by saying small is actually the average, normal church in the United States, with 100 or 150 people gathering on a weekend. One of the major strengths this type of church brings to the table is they are much more resilient to a change in leadership than a large church.

One time I heard it said that when a small church loses their leader, it’s like a cat with nine lives. They’ll be fine. They bounce back. If a large church loses their leader, it’s like a beached whale, and they have a hard, hard time getting things right again. Resiliency is a huge strength for small churches.

Small Churches, Leadership And Culture: Karl Vaters Interviews William Vanderbloemen

William Vanderbloemen is the CEO and Founder of the Vanderbloemen Search Group, a company that works with churches to help them hire staff, plan for the future and more. Recently, William and I (Karl) did an interview exchange. He interviewed me for his podcast (click here) and I interviewed him for this blog post.

In this exchange, William expresses his appreciation for small churches and their leaders, talks about the importance of your church’s culture, and offers some great ideas and encouragement from his experiences working with hundreds of churches of all sizes.

Karl Vaters: You work with churches of all sizes. For many people, the advantages of big churches are obvious. What strengths do small churches have that they should lean in to?

William Vanderbloemen: Small is a four-letter word. People talk about small churches, and they don’t remember that what they mean by saying small is actually the average, normal church in the United States, with 100 or 150 people gathering on a weekend. One of the major strengths this type of church brings to the table is they are much more resilient to a change in leadership than a large church.

One time I heard it said that when a small church loses their leader, it’s like a cat with nine lives. They’ll be fine. They bounce back. If a large church loses their leader, it’s like a beached whale, and they have a hard, hard time getting things right again. Resiliency is a huge strength for small churches.

Grandma Didn’t Go To Church: 9 Ways First-Generation Christians Are Making Me A Better Pastor

For the first time in American history we have a generation without Christian parents or grandparents.

Many of the people – especially the youth – who give their lives to Jesus in our church have never been taught Bible stories, prayed at meals or bedtime, or heard grandma sing Jesus Loves Me.

If you live outside the USA, this may have been true of your culture for a long time. But for us, it’s new. Actually, if you live in the Bible Belt, it may not have happened in your community yet. But it is coming.

This makes pastoring today both a great opportunity and an interesting challenge.

Let Them Lean In: The Power a Subtle Gospel

What if the church, instead of yelling louder, gave a noise-soaked world something they had to lean in to? Instead trying to catch the attention of an overwhelmed culture with even more sound and fury, what if we undermined the dominant communications paradigm by doing something truly counter-cultural – a subtle gospel?

Maybe whispering the gospel is better than yelling it. At least in some situations.

Six Church-and-Culture Issues I Don’t Care About Any More

Well, that was ironic.

Last week I wrote a post, Six Church-Insider Issues I Don’t Care About Any More. It resulted in more readers than any previous week this blog has ever had.

Apparently, being passionately apathetic is contagious.

As promised, today’s post has a second list of issues on how the church interacts with the culture.

Saying I don’t care about these issues is not a euphemism for being upset. I don’t think these things are bad. If your church does them, fine. I don’t want to take a sledgehammer to them. I’ve just shrugged them off due to apathy.

Movies In Church: Use Pop Culture, But Don’t Let It Use You

“With great power comes great responsibility.”

When I wrote my last post, Uh, Pastor… Being Right Is Not an Excuse to Be Mean, I ended it with those words from the Spider-Man comics.

It is perhaps the most famous quote from superhero comics and movies (thanks to Stan Lee and Peter Parker’s uncle Ben).

Because I used that quote, I was tempted to make it the title of my post and use a photo of Spider-Man to accompany it.

Here’s why I didn’t.

The Sign On the Front Door Matters

There’s an old, true saying in leadership circles:

What you win them with is what you win them to.

I didn’t choose to attract readers to my last post with a Spider-Man quote and photo because I wasn’t interested in attracting them to Spider-Man or superheroes.

When people were done reading that post, I wanted my readers to be thinking about how pastors need to be careful with our words, so that’s what I put in the title and accompanying photo.

In today’s post, I want you to walk away thinking about how we need to be careful about how we use words and images from popular culture, so I put that in the title. And I used a photo of a little dog in an ill-fitting Spider-Man suit because I think it illustrates the point of this post well – there are some ideas that might seem cute at the time, but they don’t fit like they should.

Provide an Alternative, Not More of the Same

I have no problem using references from pop culture to illustrate truth – I used a Spider-Man quote in my last post, after all. And I’ve made multiple references to pop culture in previous posts (including quoting Keith Richards, Reality TV shows and The Big Bang Theory sitcom, among others). But I’m beginning to tire of the tendency among pastors and Christian bloggers to link so much of our speaking and writing directly from the popular culture.

#BestOf2014: We Can Whine About the New Generation Or We Can Minister to Them – But We Can’t Do Both

This week, several people sent me a blog post from CNN.com, wondering what my take on it was. The article was built around an interview with a pastor who, according to CNN, if he “could preach a sermon to lift the souls of churchgoers across America, his message would be simple: Stop dressing so tacky for church.”

Really?

One message to every American churchgoer and it’s not about love, prayer, worship, knowing the bible better, sharing our faith, repentance, or feeding the poor? It’s about what we wear for an hour on Sunday?

Diversify or Die? The Future of the Church Is Stronger In Many Baskets

Beyond the surprisingly few essentials, there is no right way to do church.

As soon as we pick any method as the right method, we take a great risk. First, because it causes us to look down on other ways of doing church and, by extension, the fellow believers who worship that way. Second, because as soon as that method becomes stale or irrelevant, the Gospel appears to be stale and irrelevant, too.

The Gospel is always bigger than my, your, or anyone else’s method.

I Support the “Son of God” Movie, So My Church Isn’t Buying Out a Theater

I have no idea if Son of God is a great, average or awful movie. Given the many public statements of faith made by its producers, I have no doubt it will be a sincere and devout one.

But Christian-themed media and art need to be more than sincere and devout. They should be able to stand on their own as legitimate works of cinematic art.

They need to be good.

Rather than being propped up by massive ticket buys from churches, Christian-themed movies need to take the same critical and box office heat that every other movie does. If it’s a good movie, it will survive and thrive. If it’s not a good movie, it won’t – and shouldn’t.