the shape of leadership

How to Lead a Small Church

Karl Vaters shares field-tested principles for increasing a small church’s capacity for effective ministry

Influence Magazine on April 9, 2018

The vast majority of churches in America are small. In the Assemblies of God, for example, 75 percent of all churches report fewer than 200 people in weekly attendance. Nearly 60 percent report fewer than 100. And nearly one-third report fewer than 50.

Unfortunately, there are few books about how to lead a small church. Karl Vaters’ new book, Small Church Essentials is one of the best, and it’s both hopeful and helpful. (See our review here.)

In this episode of the Influence Podcast, Influence magazine executive editor George P. Wood talks to Vaters about the unique challenges and opportunities facing small-church pastors. Vaters is teaching pastor of Cornerstone Christian Fellowship in Fountain Valley, California, and an Assemblies of God minister. He blogs regularly about small-church leadership at


Episode 135 Notes

  • 00:00 Introduction of podcast topic
  • 00:39 Voyage: Trusting Jesus in Untrusted Waters sponsor ad
  • 01:17 Introduction of Karl Vaters
  • 01:55 Why “church growth” talk is so frustrating to small-church pastors
  • 06:47 Why a “Now what?” attitude is so important
  • 10:08 Why small churches require different leadership structures than big churches
  • 13:28 Why we need a broader definition of “church growth”
  • 18:06 How small churches cast vision
  • 23:37 How small churches disciple people
  • 29:16 How small churches utilize facilities
  • 34:00 How to follow Karl Vaters online
  • 34:47 Conclusion
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