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Karl Vaters: Just Because Your Church Is Small Does Not Mean It Is Unhealthy

Karl Vaters
Photo courtesy of Karl Vaters

Karl Vaters has been in pastoral ministry for 40 years. He is the teaching pastor of Cornerstone Christian Fellowship, a healthy small church in Orange County, California. Karl’s heart is to help pastors of small churches find the resources to lead well, and he produces resources to help small churches thrive at KarlVaters.com. He is also the author of four books, including “Small Church Essentials: Field-Tested Principles for Leading a Healthy Congregation of Under 250.” 

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Key Questions for Karl Vaters

-What is a “small church”? Could you give us a general overview of some of the strengths and weaknesses of large churches and small churches?

-How do pastors know what size church they should be pastoring?

-How have you seen small church leaders walking through our cultural divisiveness in the last several years?

-What keeps small churches from thriving?

Key Quotes From Karl Vaters

“The definition of small church is a moving target and it depends on what you’re trying to measure for…I like to measure it by factoring in what it takes to pastor a church.”

“There are two very distinct types of small churches. There’s a church of 50, give or take 50, and there’s a church of 150, give or take 50. And those are two very distinct types of small churches.”

“The small church strength typically is in relationships. When you ask people who attend small churches why they attend small churches…number one is ‘I go to a small church because the pastor knows my name.’”

“Two hundred is a significant barrier. That’s why 150 give or take 50 is the upper range of ‘small church’ in my definition because at that point you really do have to change the way you pastor when you make that shift.”

“The phrase ‘all healthy things grow’ tormented me for a couple of decades…And if you reverse that principle, then that means then if it’s not growing numerically, there must be something unhealthy about it.”