Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Church size - why it matters

In considering the issue of church size there is one person whose work I would turn to every time. Dr Timothy Keller, the founder and pastor of New York’s Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan has written very helpfully on this topic and I make no apology for being heavily dependent on his work for what follows. 

 You can find his complete article ‘Leadership and Church Size Dynamics – How strategy changes with growth’ on the Redeemer website: 

What follows are highlights from the article with my own personal slant on some of the points.

Keller stresses that how a church operates and functions will be heavily impacted by its size and that failure to realise the significance of church size provides the common reasons for mistakes by pastors and leaders in managing their church. He talks of a ‘size culture’ which will majorly influence the areas of decision-making, the flow of relationships, how effectiveness is evaluated and even what ministers, staff team and volunteer leaders actually do.

Major differences between churches are often seen in denominational or theological terms - so we can underestimate how size impacts the way an individual church operates. In Keller’s view, a staff team member who moves from a church of 400 to one of 2000 is making a massive change and one greater than a move between denominations. He tells us that it is not just a matter of a large church being a bigger version of a small church but it has a massive impact on the scale and scope of leadership skills required to cover the difference in the means and style of communication, ways of forming community and the decision-making processes.