When this is all done and people look back five years from now, from this season, they will not remember how well you framed a shot on Sunday morning. They will remember the call they received from their pastor who said, “how are you doing? And how can I help you?”
Hi, I’m Karl Vaters, and I'm a small church pastor. And welcome to another episode of Can This Work in a Small Church?
Today we're going to be talking about recovering and thriving in the post-pandemic church. Yes, I know, a lot of people have been talking about that and understandably so, because we've all gone through something in the last year and a half to two years that we've never experienced before, and hopefully we'll never have to experience again. And it has a big impact. It changes churches, it changes pastors. It changes the leaders of churches. It changes the way we do things and approach things and look at things. It changes just about everything in ways both subtle and big.
So, why am I weighing in on this subject when it seems like just about everybody else has— and in fact, I've written about it several times—so why am I adding it to a podcast? Here are a couple of reasons why, first of all, because this is a unique perspective that we offer in this podcast. We want to look at it from a small church perspective and not just from the perspective of the larger church world, which typically includes larger churches.
Secondly, I think I can offer a unique perspective here. Not because I'm so smart or anything like that, but because I spend a lot of my time talking with and traveling around to small churches and meeting with small church pastors and other leaders. During the pandemic, I talked to hundreds of small church leaders. I was online in webinars and Zoom chats with hundreds of them. I heard back from so many, I answered emails, responded to Twitter conversations. There was a constant conversation going on among small church pastors. And because of this ministry, I was able to hear from small church pastors in just about every aspect of the church that you could imagine, here in the United States for almost every state, from most denominations, from multiple places around the world, every continent but Antartica came in at some point or another into the conversation, and it was all from a small church standpoint.
So I want to be able to offer a reflection of what I heard from those different areas. I'm taking out some of the things that were more specific to particular zones. So, I heard from rural churches, so anything that only applies in a rural church, I won't mention. I heard from big city churches, so anything that applies only in big cities, but it doesn't apply rural, I'll leave that out. I heard from different countries, so certain things that work in one country, but not in another, we won't talk about that. But what I want to do is: I want to talk about a handful of principles that seem to be universal—that everybody I talked to, no matter what their background was, their denomination, their city size, the country they were in, the state they were in, the language they spoke, their theological tradition. All of these things seem to apply in one way or another to help them churches thrive during the pandemic and to now recover and thrive as we come into a post-pandemic world.