May 04, 2023
Read time: 4 minutes
Do you consider being a small church something to embrace or a stage to move on from? In this episode of Church Leadership Lab, we talk with Karl Vaters as he shares how to thrive as a small church and feel empowered to lead right where God has you.
Small is a relative term and can be defined in many different ways. Karl Vaters describes a small church in two ways:
These two congregations are considered small because although they are different, they have much more in common in how they are pastored. Within these two congregations, the pastoral capacity is the same. For one, the pastor can know everybody and be a part of everything. A higher relational connection can also be made between people within the congregation to help them feel more known, seen, and cared for. The main focus of a small church is not to grow to be bigger but to maintain health and be great no matter the size of the church.
Did you know that 90% of churches worldwide are considered small churches? Being a small church isn’t a season to try to get through as fast as possible, but it is something to embrace and own. Here are a few benefits and challenges of being a small church.
A small church has unique abilities that a large church doesn’t have; however, many pastors may find themselves trying to be a smaller version of a big church. This can lead to burnout, unrest, and poor execution due to limited capacity. Here are three steps to declutter and find rest.
The responsibilities of a small church pastor can feel overwhelming but be encouraged. God isn’t calling your church to be anything more than the best possible version your church can be.
It can be easy to look at metrics and numbers of giving, baptisms, or attendance to measure how healthy your church is. But for smaller churches, this can be a real challenge. Small churches don’t have a sample size large enough to measure a church’s health, and the numbers tend to break down and are inaccurate due to the size. In small churches, metrics are far less valuable, and as a church leader, you have to look more at the qualitative than the quantitative.
Conversations are one of the best ways to get a measure of the health of a church. As you lead, it’s essential to ask good questions to those you are leading alongside to get a pulse on how things are going within different areas of the church. It’s also essential to have regular conversations to evaluate what is going well and poorly and make changes to improve the church.
No matter the size of your church, it’s essential to have your boots on the ground and be purposeful in connecting, having conversations, and engaging with the people in your church. This will give a more accurate health measure for small churches and allow you to learn more about those within your church.
Book: Dirt Matters by Jim Powell
Last Thing You Listened To: Old School Gospel Soul Music
Quote: “The gospel isn’t a good idea; it’s good news.”
One Thing You’d Communicate to Church Leaders: Don’t worry about telling your story so much as telling people about the part you get to play in God’s story.