The One Big Counterintuitive Reason Most Churches Stay Small
In many cases, small might be a strategic advantage.

Why are most churches small?

The common wisdom is that they’re stuck. They’re broken. They must be doing something wrong. If they’d get their act together and fix what’s wrong, they’d start getting bigger.

Certainly, all of that does apply to many ...

Continue Reading ...
Christian Unity
“Small Churches Are Lazy!” “Big Churches Are Compromised!” (5 Steps To Overcome Those Unfair Stereotypes)
Find the good. It’s there. Even in churches that may not be your cup of tea.

There are two big myths about the way we view churches of various sizes.

Myth #1: Big churches got big because they compromised their message, stole sheep or had some special advantage unavailable to other churches.

Myth #2: Small churches stay small because they’re lazy, ...

Continue Reading ...
Christian Unity
9 Ways Church Leadership Conferences Can Attract More Small Church Pastors
Don’t just help us break through barriers, help us know what to do before we break though.

Why don’t more small church pastors attend church leadership conferences?

It’s not because we’re lazy, uninformed or don’t want to learn. It’s because of several significant, but removable roadblocks that keep most of us from coming.

In recent years, ...

Continue Reading ...
Innovative Ministry
Small Church Pastors Have A Different Skill Set, Not A Lesser One
When we judge ministry success by only one characteristic (numerical growth) we miss what other pastors can teach us.

In nearly 40 years of pastoral ministry, I’ve learned so much from other pastors.

And it hasn’t just been from pastors of big churches. Pastors of small churches have taught me a lot, also.

Typically, I get one type of wisdom from those in big churches, and a different ...

Continue Reading ...
Christian Unity
Character Is Also What You Do When Things Go Easy And Everyone Is Watching
When we’re not guarding our hearts, minds and morals, the spotlight and the shadows can be equally dangerous.

They say you reveal your character, not when things are going well, but when the chips are down.

Not when everyone’s watching, but when no one sees what you do.

That’s true.

But it’s only part of the truth.

A Reversal Of Character

Some people seem to have the character ...

Continue Reading ...
Church Leadership
This May Be The Most Disruptive, Counterintuitive Truth In Church Leadership Today
Churches don’t need to get bigger to do great ministry. Many small churches are doing it already.

Great ideas are disruptive.

They don’t follow common wisdom.

But after you hear them, you often think, “of course! How did I not see that all along?”

In church leadership today, there’s no more common wisdom than this: if your church is not increasing in ...

Continue Reading ...
3 Reasons Your Church’s Mission Doesn’t Have To Be Different To Be Effective
There are great dangers in thinking that a church has to do something unique to fulfill their mission.

There are two equal, but opposite mistakes we make when it comes to discovering a church’s mission.

First extreme: find out what the cool churches are doing and copy that.

Second extreme: find something no other church is doing and pursue that.

The first extreme is an obvious ...

Continue Reading ...
Church & Culture
Church Growth: Before Asking “Does It Scale?” We Need To Ask, “Should It Scale?”
The best answers start with the right questions.

Not everything is scalable.

Church growth is. But not every aspect of church health is.

Not only is bigger not always better, in some cases pushing for numerical growth can actually be harmful to the mission of a local church.

Scalability Is Not Universal

There are a lot of great, ...

Continue Reading ...
Church & Culture
What’s Wrong With The Church Today? Nothing That Hasn’t Been Wrong Every Other Day
God has always used imperfect people and imperfect churches, because that’s all there is to work with.

There’s a lot that’s wrong with the church today.

Over and over, I see similar complaints:

  • “The church today is compromised!”
  • “The modern church is about entertainment!”
  • “The contemporary church is more about personalities than about Jesus!”
Continue Reading ...
Church Growth
Breaking The 200 Barrier Is Good – Feeling Guilty If You Don’t Break It, Isn’t
Most churches don’t experience constant numerical increase, no matter how hard they work or what new strategies they learn.

If you want your church to break through the 200 barrier there’s a lot of help.

From the classic book, How To Break Growth Barriers, to newly-developed programs by great leaders like Carey Nieuwhof, Ed Stetzer and The Unstuck Group, there’s no shortage of top-notch ...

Continue Reading ...
Church & Culture
7 Contradictory Cultural Trends – And 7 Ways Christians Can Respond With Integrity
We need to be ready to listen to the concerns of people who seem to be living contradictory lives. Thankfully, this is something the scriptures have prepared us for.

The world is changing. Fast.

Unlike many of my contemporaries, I see a lot of good changes along with the bad ones, but no matter how you see it, change is hard.

And the extreme amount of change we’re experiencing now is overwhelming.

It’s especially challenging when ...

Continue Reading ...
In Praise Of Walmart Churches
Walmart churches don’t care how they look to others. They know who they are and who they’re called to reach.

There are a lot of cool churches in the world.

Congregations trying the latest ideas, ministries using cutting-edge graphics, and worship bands leading us in the newest songs.

I like cool churches.

It’s great to see them keeping up to date, trying innovative methods, and ...

Continue Reading ...
The Small Church's Biggest Need, Biggest Blessing, and Biggest Opportunity
There is a role for churches of all sizes. Big churches meet some needs, small churches meet other needs.

The typical church has about 75 attendees every week.

So if you pastor a small congregation, your church isn’t broken, it’s what’s known as normal. And normal doesn’t need to be fixed.

But for the most part, the books, conferences and classes about pastoring ...

Continue Reading ...
Church Growth
Overcoming Confirmation Bias About Church Size, Health And Effectiveness
Confirmation bias causes us to see the successes of the big, fast-growing churches, but only the problems in the small, steady church.

Why do we equate size with health and effectiveness in the church?

One reason is our tendency toward confirmation bias.

When we want to know what church health is, we look at what’s happening in the biggest and fastest-growing churches.

On the other hand, when we look at ...

Continue Reading ...
Church Leadership
Why We Need To Be Careful About Adopting Business Models In Our Churches
When we think we need to go to a business model for church renewal, aren’t we implying that biblical principles can’t stand on their own?

It’s becoming very popular to teach church growth and leadership principles using ideas from successful businesses.

Some of the titles of books and articles I’ve seen lately include, What The Church Can Learn From...

  • Harley Davidson
  • Marvel Movies
  • Japanese Management
Continue Reading ...

Read More from Karl

Follow Christianity Today

Free Newsletters