Karl Vaters on 10 Questions More Important Than ‘What Was Your Sunday Attendance?’

Karl Vaters is the author of The Grasshopper Myth: Big Churches, Small Churches and the Small Thinking That Divides Us. He’s been in pastoral ministry for over 30 years and has been the lead pastor of Cornerstone Christian Fellowship in Fountain Valley, California for over 20 years. He’s also the founder of NewSmallChurch.com, a blog that encourages, connects and equips innovative Small Church pastors.


On any given Sunday, even the smallest, simplest church service juggles an amazing array of complex issues. From set-up to attendance to events.

  • Set-up to tear-down
  • Relationships to administration
  • Spiritual to emotional
  • Planned events to unplanned interruptions
  • and more.

But too often we reduce the value of this beautiful, multi-layered gathering of believers, seekers, skeptics and hypocrites to one overly-simplistic metric. Namely, how many people showed up?

More Than Numbers and Attendance

Certainly, almost every pastor and church is grateful when church attendance is on the rise – myself included. And appropriately so.

It’s not that attendance figures don’t matter, it’s that too many of us have made those numbers the primary, sometimes exclusive focus of our attention.

This is misguided at best, idolatrous at worst.

We’re Not Selling Widgets

It reminds me of a complaint I often hear from fellow authors and artists about their publisher or promoter. Sometimes they feel like no one who works with them is concerned about the quality of their work, just how many units they’re selling.

Certainly authors, musicians and other artists care about reaching a bigger audience, too. But the size of the audience doesn’t matter if the work is shabby.

Unfortunately, a lot of church leaders are guilty of falling into the same trap – expressing more concern about the numbers than about the quality of the experience.

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Source: Church Leaders