The low price of oil has dampened the Canadian economy. According to a London Free Press article, our GDP during the first three months of this year (2015) contracted by 0.6%, when it was expected to increase by 0.3%. Leah Schnurr of Reuters writes, “It was … the first time Canada’s economy has failed to expand since the second quarter of 2011, which saw zero growth.”
This analysis reflects the view of our society at large: if you’re not growing (i.e. if the numbers are not increasing), then something is horribly wrong. Many church leaders operate from this usually unspoken assumption. When the numbers we submit on our Annual Church Life Report don’t edge up, we get nervous and wonder what could be wrong.
Karl Vaters challenges this view head on in The Grasshopper Myth. The small churches of the world (which he defines as churches of 25-350 people) have a critical role to play in God’s redemptive plan. They have a strategic advantage in their ability to try new things, to reinvent themselves, and to train people to serve who might not get a chance in a more excellence-driven large church.
It’s time for small church pastors and leaders to stop feeling insecure in the level of their metrics and to develop a great small church. Vaters encourages pastors to proudly own the size of their church by taking a photo and displaying it on his Nametag Wall.
This is a motivational book with ministry insight. If you know a small church pastor who feels defeated, this book is medicine for the soul.
We do need to move further. Now that the case has been persuasively made for the legitimacy of the small church, I would love to see more literature focuses on how to maximize the strengths of the small church. Perhaps a sequel is in order.
—Karl Vaters, The Grasshopper Myth (USA: New Small Church, 2012).