Karl Vaters – Proud to be a Small Church Pastor

I bucked against the idea that I am a small church pastor. I treated it like it was my penalty for not having the skills to be a big church pastor.

small church pastor

For years I bucked against the idea that I am a small church pastor.

Instead of seeing it as my calling, my heart and my passion, I treated it like it was my penalty for not having the skills to be a big church pastor.

So I consumed every church growth book and devoured all the “10 Reasons Your Church Isn’t Getting Bigger” lists like they were a prescription for a disease. And if the prescription was to grow your church, the disease must be that the church was small. Or so I thought.

But the antidotes didn’t cure anything, because small churches are not a sickness to overcome, a problem to fix, or a theological error to correct.

Being a small church pastor isn’t my penalty for something I’ve done, or am doing wrong.

It’s my specialty. My niche. And, since embracing it, it’s becoming an area of great joy and passion – even expertise.

Are You Proud to Be a Small Church Pastor?

Lean In To Your Ministry Calling

Imagine if you went to medical school with the idea of being the world’s greatest surgeon but, instead of having the manual dexterity for surgery, you had a surprisingly ability to diagnose diseases others missed.

But you still wanted to be a surgeon. So, instead of going into residency to become a great diagnostician, you went back to whatever school would have you, as you tried in vain to become a better surgeon.

Determined not to give up, you became stubborn. Instead of helping to spare people from years of pain and sickness by correctly identifying diseases other doctors misdiagnosed, you kept fighting a losing battle to become a surgeon.

You didn’t want to “settle” for becoming a great diagnostician, so you “overcame” your weaknesses and became a mediocre surgeon.

Mediocre At Big, Or Great At Small?

We don’t need more pastors trying to become something they’re not.

We need dedicated, passionate ministers who are using the gifts they’ve been given. Even if those gifts lead them to different places than they expected to go.

It’s not giving up or settling for less to recognize that you’re called to be a small church pastor. As long as you do it with all the skill and passion you have.

We need to see small church pastoring as a specialty to embrace, not a penalty to endure. When we do, everything changes.

When we stop wasting so much time and energy trying to be something we’re not, we can discover what it means to be great at what we are called to do.

You’re not a small church pastor because you’re a lousy big church pastor. You’re a small church pastor because, if you embrace it, you can be great at it.

It’s all about attitude. Don’t see it as a penalty, make it your specialty.


This article originally appeared here, and is used by permission.

Karl Vaters is the author of The Grasshopper Myth: Big Churches, Small Churches and the Small Thinking That Divides Us. He’s been in pastoral ministry for over 30 years and has been the lead pastor of Cornerstone Christian Fellowship in Fountain Valley, California for over 20 years. He’s also the founder of NewSmallChurch.com, a blog that encourages, connects and equips innovative Small Church pastors.