Highlight: What makes a church successful?

Are big churches more successful than small churches simply because of their size? Are small churches more virtues because of their size?

There are a lot of assumptions made about churches because of the size of their congregation. According to small church pastor Karl Vaters, a churches is value not found in their size long as they preach Gospel truth. He shares why small churches are not a problem, virtue, or an excuse.

Small is not a problem

“Some people just prefer worshipping in a smaller, more intimate environment. They like that they get to know everybody. “

However, small is not an excuse for not growing.

“When that turns into stubbornness and refusal to grow then it’s a problem, but simply realizing that I worship better in the small environment than a big environment, there’s nothing wrong with that.”

Assuming that small churches are somehow less effective isn’t helpful.

Small is not a virtue

At the same time, small churches are not necessarily better than large churches.

“Small isn’t better than big.”

“Some little churches talk about being the only righteous remnant because they’re the only ones preaching the full gospel and that’s just silly.”

Small is not an excuse. 

A standard of excellence has a place in all churches. It just might look different in a small church compared to a big church.

“The challenge is we’ve been told what excellence looks like in a big church setting, but we have not been taught what excellence looks like in a small church.”

What does excellence, specifically excellence in community, look like in a small church?

“It starts with things like friendliness. Imagine somebody going to a big church. They walk in and go to the entire service, walk out and feel like the place wasn’t friendly. That’s hard, but it’s not fatal.”

“If you walk into a small church of fifty people and nobody says hi, nobody greets you, and nobody is friendly, that’s brutal. Because in a big room we’re used to being an audience and so we know how to behave like an audience. The smaller the room is the more we expect friendliness, intimacy, conversation, relationships.”

“One of the things small churches should do well, but don’t always do well, is relationships.”


Karl Vaters is the author of the book, . On his blog Pivot, he writes about Innovative Leadership from a Small Church Perspective for ChristianityToday.com several times a week. He’s also the founder of NewSmallChurch.com, a ministry that encourages, connects and equips innovative Small Church pastors.

Key Scripture: Numbers 5

Featured Songs: The Church is Alive – River Valley; No Wonder – River Valley; God’s Not Done – River Valley

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