Small Church Essentials: Field-Tested Principles for Leading a Healthy Congregation of Under 250 by Karl Vaters is written in a conversational manner. I found it interesting, intelligent, and engaging.
Our family attended a small church for eleven years, and we are currently attending another small church. Karl Vaters makes some wonderful suggestions — suggestions that make sense — that may have helped our previous small church survive (No, it hasn’t completely died, but it had seriously shrunk by the time we left several months ago).
Karl Vaters is the pastor of a small church, and has been for 25 years (and counting). He explains why not every church can be a “big” church, but that’s not a bad thing. He also explains and offers suggestions for helping a small church to be a healthy church. He does an excellent job of explaining how small churches are different from big churches, which is why it doesn’t really work to run a small church the same way big churches are run. He does all of this without saying anything negative about or putting down big churches. His desire, for this book, is to help the pastors of small churches to see how their small church can be a healthy church, and how they don’t have to feel incompetent or like a failure because they aren’t making their small church into a big church.
Do you know there are more small churches than there are big churches? It’s just that the big churches are the hot topics in our current society. However, not everyone wants to be part of a big church either, which is another reason that pastors in small churches should not feel badly about not being big. Pastors need to focus on the health of their church, not the size of their church. A healthy church will naturally grow, but it may never grow to “big church” status, and that’s okay.
I am not a pastor, but I am part of a church of under 250 people, and Karl Vaters’ suggestions for creating a healthy small church make sense and are biblical. He uses several examples of Jesus ministering. Yes, you may think, “but Jesus ministered to huge crowds”, and yes, he did, but his main focus was on small groups like his twelve disciples.
If you’re a pastor of a small church who feels frustrated, stressed, and like you’re failing, or if you’re a pastor of a small church who just wants to get an idea as to how healthy your church is, I encourage you to read this book. I also encourage those of you who are part of a small church body to read this book, because it’s not the pastor’s job alone to keep the church healthy, and you may find some ways you can serve your church and your pastor by reading this book.