JIM EBY RESPONDS TO KARL VATERS
“For years I bucked against the idea that I am a small church pastor,” said Karl Vaters in an article published in Cutting Edge on November 7. Vaters continued, “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.”
Please read Jim’s response, and then feel free to share your thoughts with me. – Pastor Frank
JIM EBY RESPONDS TO KARL VATERS:
“Thanks again for sending the Cutting Edge newsletter. You are being a great blessing to the IPHC family. I enjoy reading the articles.
“While I agree with some of what was written in the article by Karl Vaters, I think there can be a real problem with consoling pastors in their smallness. Most small churches are not a sickness to be overcome and are not necessarily a problem to fix. However, if they are not growing by winning lost people, they are most definitely sick by New Testament standards and they do have a significant problem.
“Everything God created, be it trees or flowers or cows or pigs or chickens or people or anything else is designed to reproduce. Reproduction almost always takes place in things that are healthy. It is natural and normal in all of life. So if a church is not reproducing, it is indeed unhealthy.
“Many small churches are indeed sick and some are sterile. We do these churches a disservice if we try to console them in their sickness and sterility. Better to teach them how to train their members to pray for lost friends and neighbors, and teach them how (and encourage them) to share their faith.
“In many ways, some denominations (and I’m afraid our own is included) are unhealthy. The figures Bob Ely presented at General Conference would seem to indicate that our denomination is indeed, in some ways, sick. And, if that is true, it is because we are not training our people.
“As long as I can remember, we have emphasized two values in IPHC: pure doctrine and great preaching. Sometimes we pride ourselves in our pure doctrine and our ability to preach, and the result is we wind up indoctrinating ourselves and preaching to ourselves week after week and month after month, instead of doing what Jesus commanded in His last words to us: making disciples of all peoples.
“In IPHC, at least it seems to me, we have relegated this command to our missionary force and the result is that most of our members don’t even realize the Great Commission was given to every believer, not just to missionaries.
“I’m afraid I don’t see most pastors of small churches, as Vader wrote, “wasting time and energy trying to be something they are not.” They may well be frustrated, but that’s something different.
“What I see is rather we are not equipping believers, as we are exhorted in Ephesians 4 and elsewhere, to carry out the work of the ministry.
“This is my response to what Karl Vaters wrote.
“Blessings on you, my friend. Keep up the good work.”
Jim Eby serves as founder and president of Mission Catalyst International. Mission Catalyst is dedicated to training new leaders to win people to Christ and motivating them to plant new churches primarily in the two-thirds world. Prior to this ministry, Pastor Eby served as Bishop of the New Horizons Conference (IPHC), giving oversight to more than 100 churches and 300 ministers in the southern USA. Jim Eby’s passion is to get the Gospel to the two billion people and 7,000 unreached people groups who have yet to hear the message.
If you would like to respond to what Jim Eby has written, please let me hear from you. Pastor Frank