Start reading The Grasshopper Myth on the free Kindle Reading App or on your Kindle in under a minute. Don't have a Kindle? Get your Kindle here.

Deliver to your Kindle or other device

Enter a promotion code
or gift card

Try it free

Sample the beginning of this book for free

Deliver to your Kindle or other device

Sorry, this item is not available in
Image not available for
Image not available

The Grasshopper Myth: Big Churches, Small Churches and the Small Thinking that Divides Us [Kindle Edition]

Karl Vaters
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)

Kindle Price: $9.99

Free Kindle Reading App Anybody can read Kindle books—even without a Kindle device—with the FREE Kindle app for smartphones, tablets and computers.

To get the free app, enter your email address or mobile phone number.


Amazon Price New from Used from
Kindle Edition $9.99  
Paperback --  
Best Books of the Month
Best Books of the Month
Want to know our Editors' picks for the best books of the month? Browse Best Books of the Month, featuring our favorite new books in more than a dozen categories.

Book Description

90% of the churches in the world have less than 200 people.

What if that's not a bad thing? What if smallness is an advantage God wants us to use, not a problem to fix?

In The Grasshopper Myth (also available at, Karl Vaters takes on some of the unbiblical beliefs we've held about church growth and church size for the last several decades. Then he offers a game plan for a New Small Church.

The title comes from the story in Numbers 13. When the Hebrews were at the edge of the Promised Land, ten of the twelve spies come back with this report: "All the people we saw there are of great size. ...We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them." - Numbers 13:32-33

The grasshopper myth is the false impression that our Small Church ministry is less than what God says it is because we compare ourselves with others.

The solution is for Small Churches to see themselves the way God sees them. A church of innovation, not stagnation. A church that leads instead of following. A church that thinks small, but never engages in small thinking.

If big churches are the cruise ships on the church ocean, small churches can be the speedboats. They can move faster, maneuver more deftly, squeeze into tighter spaces and have a ton of fun doing it. They just have to see themselves that way.

If you read this book (make that when you read it, cuz if you've come this far you're hooked, right?) you'll find your presuppositions challenged, your heart encouraged and your life and ministry transformed.

Let's rediscover a New Small Church.

Editorial Reviews


"A great and unique book. You get right to the heart of the matter."
-- John Bueno, Former Assemblies of God World Missions Executive Director

"Finally! This book has been needed for some time. So necessary, so solid and so real. This book has been researched, it has been lived and it expresses a heart touched by God. Every pastor should read The Grasshopper Myth and be encouraged."
-- Dr. Jim Masteller, CEO of CIFT (Center for Individual & Family Therapy)

"One of the best books I've read in several years. ...Too often we live under a cloud of self doubt and self-inflicted pressure to constantly have to do more and get bigger. Karl has used biblical truth to debunk these culturally caused ideas and set me free to be the pastor God has called me to be. I highly recommend this book to every small church pastor."
-- Brian Fitch, Lead Pastor, Florence Church of the Nazarene, Florence Oregon

"An outstanding job on a topic that needs to be addressed. ...This is a call to use smallness as an advantage rather than an excuse. This book could change how you view yourself and your church."
-- Frank Wooden, Hope Church, San Diego, Strategic Small Church planter

"Captivating - Challenging - City Changing. Love the flow, honesty and church-impacting style. It is brilliant! It is a must-read for struggling Pastors as well those experiencing overwhelming success."
-- David C Rees-Thomas. Founding Pastor, Calvary Community Church, Kailua-Kona, Hawaii

From the Author

The Grasshopper Myth is the book I wish someone else had written years ago.

It challenges presuppositions I had about church health and growth for most of the last 30 years in ministry. My hope is that it will do for others what I wish it could have done for me - help me understand that a Small Church can be a great church.

The Grasshopper Myth includes a chapter-by-chapter discussion guide.

Product Details

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hope For The Small Church February 12, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
When you read a book and it frees you from 40 years of guilt--that has to be a revolutionary book! That's how long I've been pastoring churches, 40 years. And from my first church to my current pastorate I've had a little voice in the back of my head that said, "You just haven't made it yet."

Of course that guilt and voice was man made. You see I am a `small church' pastor. And Vaters book is `liberating' for pastors of small churches. Why? Because most of us have bought into the `church growth' idea that if your church is not growing, something must be the matter with it and you. Part of the problem according to Vaters is how we measure growth.

He says, "We've discovered the benefits of thinking small. And it's got nothing to do with small thinking. ...Our small size is not something to be fixed, but a strategic advantage God wants to use."

Vaters shares his own story of pastoring a small church and attempting to grow a big church using `church growth' strategies. It's a refreshingly honest and often heart wrenching story that many pastors and church leaders will relate to.

Vaters says there is a need for all sizes of churches. But, "For the last several decades, the church leadership culture as a whole has despised small churches." The truth is that most "people want to be `pastored' not spiritually managed," says Vaters.

Vaters has a lot to say about numbers. "Sometimes what we call a plateau is simply a church reaching its optimal size, then using that size to grow healthful fruit. One of the worst things a church can do, once it has reached optimum, is to keep pushing for maximum."

Many small churches are `senders' not `attracters.' "They may not be growing numerically...
Read more ›
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
The main reason I'm happy about Karl Vaters' The Grasshopper Myth is that there is now one less book that I have to write. But seriously, if I were to write a book to encourage pastors of smaller churches it would look like The Grasshopper Myth, but probably not be as good.

Karl says, "Healthy churches do not grow under the guidance of disgruntled, demoralized pastors. One of the primary reasons for writing my story was to help other small church pastors do what it took me too many years to do-stop being upset about what I'm not and start discovering and enjoying who I am.

We need to stop using numerical growth as the primary indicator of success in ministry and start looking at health as the primary indicator of success in ministry. It may all start with this premise-a healthy church that's not growing numerically is better than an unhealthy church that is."

And again,

"...this is probably the first book you have read on the subject of pastoring that wasn't written by a mega-church pastor or by a researcher whose main focus has been to make mega-churches. That's not necessarily a bad thing, it's just the way it is."

If you are expecting a lot of mega-church-bashing you won't find it here. Unlike many books written from a small church perspective that feel a need to explain why small churches are better than large churches, Karl actually appreciates larger churches, and sees them as part of a wide range of church size, all of which have their place. The book is subtitled, "Big churches, small churches and the small thinking that divides us."

When I first received the book in the mail three things stood out to me: first, the name of the book and the cover of the book are really sharp.
Read more ›
Was this review helpful to you?
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic February 22, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
The book was fantastic I was delivered and relieved of so much pressure of trying to be something that I am NOT. this book is a must read every small church pastor I commend the autor on a great work
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Massive paradigm shift January 2, 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Any pastor of any size church who has an open heart toward other pastors would do well to read this book. We need small churches that are focused on who God is making them to be rather than what we feel like they should be. Thanks, Karl, for taking the thoughts of so many of us and going through the painful process of putting them on paper and putting them out here!!
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Grasshopper Myth April 19, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Very good book with a lot of important points well made. I have pastored a really small church (the only way I could have had a church split was if the McLeods got a divorce) and what some would consider a pretty big church.

The book is an excellent reminder that the size of the church is not really the important issue, it is the impact on the lives of people both in and out of the church. It is also a reminder for those concerned largely with numbers growth that there is a clear need and place for churches of all sizes.

Every pastor should read this book.
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I pray this changes thinking in the Church January 4, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition
I have finished reading Karl Vaters book "The Grasshoper Myth". It is such an honest book. While much of it is written for Pastors and other church leaders, I think any Christian who has ever felt like they didn't measure up to others ideas of success will get a lot out of it. I pray that this leads to new ways of thinking in the church.
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
5.0 out of 5 stars ARE YOU A RANCHER OR A SHEPHERD? August 17, 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I wonder how many pastors are trying to have a RANCHING ministry in a church that needs a SHEPHERD? A Rancher needs to delegate everything because there is too much ground for one man to cover. The Scriptural support for a Ranch Style ministry is found in Exodus 18 in Jethro's counsel to Moses. Moses had to learn to delegate because the task was too much for one man. However, the Scriptural support for the Shepherd Style ministry is found in the example of Jesus. For instance, in Luke 15 Jesus spoke of leaving the 99 to go after the 1. This gives the impression that a shepherd of his day would watch about 100 sheep. The Rancher will delegate and send a ranch hand to get a stray calf. The shepherd does not have workers under him so he cannot delegate such tasks. He must go himself. A small church must be Shepherded, but a megachurch must be run by a Rancher. Most of the church management material of our day is written for Ranchers, but 80% of all pastors in America are in a shepherding situation pastoring small churches of 200 or less. I believe that both styles are biblical, and they both have their place. However, I believe there are at least nine times (9x) as many Shepherds as there are Ranchers pastoring in America today. It is more important for them to learn how to be a Shepherd than a Rancher because it seems that most of them will never run a Ranch. If you want to learn more about this, you should read Karl Vater's book, "The Grasshopper Myth."
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Good Read
Consoling for small churches and pastors everywhere.
Published 1 month ago by Kindle Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars Encouraging book for a pastor of a small church. ...
Encouraging book for a pastor of a small church. Small churches and their leadership are mostly criticized and their effective ministry minimalized by those in the "know."
Published 1 month ago by Curtis Miller
4.0 out of 5 stars Oh! my Pastor is a Shepard!
Very mind changing and freeing idea? I have watched, for years, as my Pastor struggled to get across to us dedicated "sheep" that she is a "Shepard" while most of us business folk... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Jdud5209
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
A great read for leaders of small churches (and for their members!)
Published 3 months ago by Readingrabbbi
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
good read
Published 3 months ago by Judy M. Bailey
5.0 out of 5 stars I have recommended this book to my friends
A must read for small church
Pastors. A keeper in my library. I have recommended this book to my friends.
Published 3 months ago by Bruce
5.0 out of 5 stars Very Encouraging- great read!
The author does a great job of laying out the case for the importance of small churches and dealing with the inadequate feelings associated with small churches trying to adopt the... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Phillip D. Wilson
5.0 out of 5 stars You're going to want to read this..
Very practical and quite a blessing and a relief to our way of thinking...
Published 4 months ago by Todd Hill
5.0 out of 5 stars Love it!
This should be required reading for every pastor and church leader! A great book!
Published 4 months ago by Harry Colegrove
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Good book, small churches do the work of God just like a big church, sometimes better.
Published 4 months ago by Maxcy W Rowell JR
Search Customer Reviews
Search these reviews only

More About the Author

Hi, I'm Karl and I'm a Small Church Pastor

I've been a Small Church Pastor for about 30 years. The most recent 20 years in my current church, Cornerstone Christian Fellowship in Fountain Valley, California.

I wrote The Grasshopper Myth because I got tired of looking for books, seminars, websites, anything that would address what it was like being the pastor of a Small Church.

I've read all the pastoral ministry books and attended all the seminars, just like other Small Church pastors. And I've found great help from many of them. But, after a while, I started getting frustrated with the books and seminars because all the "can't miss" principles for growing my church ... did miss.

My church stayed small.

But it was (and is) a good church. And I was (and hopefully still am) a good pastor. So I started asking myself some questions about Small Church ministry.

"Why didn't anyone tell me it would be like this?"

"Why can't I find help to understand how to do that?"

"Why does it feel like I'm on my own, learning by trial-and-error most of the time?"

I started writing those questions down.

That led to writing down my experiences and life-lessons. Those notes were scattered all over my computer, notepads, napkins and the inside of my head for years.

I kept asking myself and a few close friends, "Why doesn't someone write about this stuff?" Then I realized, after a friendly nudge or two, that this "someone" might be me.

So I gathered all those random thoughts, ideas, frustrations and experiences together. I un-randomized them (de-randomized? ex-randomized?) and wrote the book for you that I wanted someone to write for me.

That book is The Grasshopper Myth.

What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?


There are no discussions about this product yet.
Be the first to discuss this product with the community.
Start a new discussion
First post:
Prompts for sign-in