Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Church size - moving through the 400 barrier

While the smaller church grows through pastor-initiated groups and ministries, Keller states that the medium-sized church grows through multiplying these groups and by improving their quality and effectiveness. There is no room for the ‘amateurish’ approach of the small church – classes must provide a great learning experience, music must be at a certain quality, preaching must be informative and inspirational.

Once the 400 mark is reached, such a church will grow only if the habits of the 200-sized church are broken and discarded. Often it will also require that a church moves to new space and facilities.

Large church – 400-800 attenders:

With this size of church the primary circle of belonging becomes the small fellowship group – usually between 4 and 15 people in size and more of a miniature church, not focused on a particular task within church life but existing  for Bible study, worship, fellowship and ministry.

In a large church the leadership qualities of tenure, skill and maturity that served smaller churches are also desirable but must be combined with commitment to the church’s distinct vision and mission. Key ministries will grow, both in size and importance, and will become an important reason visitors decide to join that church.

Staff members in a large church, including the senior leader, will find themselves in an increasingly specialised role. Preaching, vision-casting and strategising will be the senior leader’s major tasks and he must relinquish many/most of his administrative tasks or find that he has become a bottle-neck to further progress. Change and decisions now come from ‘top down’ - from staff and key lay leaders.

The means by which a large church grows differs from small and medium sized churches in that the key to its growth is what happens in the worship services – the quality and style of worship and preaching are paramount here, giving a means of growth by a front door approach. This is unlike the small church’s groups and ministries (backdoor approach) and the medium-sized church’s targeting of felt needs of constituent groups such as young families, youth, seniors, seekers - providing specifically designed ministries for them (side-door approach). For the large church the Sunday meetings provide the front door through which new people will come.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Church size - the medium-sized church: 200-450 attenders

At this point of growth Keller states that the interplay between three vital parameters of church life comes into focus more clearly. The three are team, facilities and finance – place them as the three sides of a triangle to see how they affect the stability of the church; if one of them is weak it will affect the life and growth of the church. So much so that if a church has stopped growing it is usually one of these areas – or a combination of them – that needs to be looked at carefully.

In a church at this stage of growth, the primary circle of belonging for the individual ceases to be the entire membership of the church and becomes a specific ministry group within it. Men’s and women’s ministries, a worship group, an outreach team, the social action group, youth work, children’s ministry – all these are possible circles of belonging that make church life ‘living’. Each of these groups is likely to be the size of a house church, namely 10 to 40 people.

In the medium-sized church, leadership functions differently – the structure becomes increasingly complex and the leaders must represent the different areas of church life such as young families, older people etc. There is now too much work to be handled by one committee or board and work is devolved to influential leadership teams that have the power to make important decisions. Leaders are now chosen not for their length of service and strength of personality but for their skills and gifts in specialised tasks and roles. Lay leaders cease to have the power to merely rubber stamp proposals or withhold permission and are required to be active in ministry or lose their role.

The senior leader now becomes less of a practitioner and becomes a trainer and organiser of others. He must be able to train, support, supervise and organise - this requires significant administrative skills. Change is generally driven by forward looking groups – often the mission, ministry or evangelism team.

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Church size - more about moving through the 200 barrier

Tim Keller identifies further issues for a church moving through the 200 barrier:

- A willingness to let power shift away from lay leaders to staffers. The old approach to decision-making requiring total consensus from everyone is now too unwieldy and up to this point any change that brings strong opposition and the possibility of anyone leaving the church is avoided. Growth toward the 200 barrier brings the point where someone is going to experience discomfort at any change and in order to facilitate necessary changes (necessary for growth!) much decision-making has to move to leaders and staff. Increasingly staff will know more about the members than lay leaders and newcomers will take their cues from the pastor and the staff. Decisions will need to be made by those individuals on the ground rather than the traditional committee.

- A willingness to be more formal and deliberate in assimilation and communication. Where previously this has taken place ‘naturally’, without planning, it now has to become more deliberate and thought out – word of mouth is no longer sufficient. If newcomers are to find their place in the church a more intentional and organised approach is required from the church.

- An ability and willingness of both pastor and people to allow the pastor to do less pastoring and more leading. More vision-casting, strategising and administrative ability is required at this level. Recruiting and supervising volunteers and programmes become more time-consuming while planning, delegating, supervising and organising become more important. At the same time the pastor becomes increasingly less available to the membership - this development needs to be recognised and accepted by both pastor and people.

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Church size - moving through the 200 barrier

Approaching the 200 barrier, a church that truly wants to make room for more people is likely to have to engage seriously with the following:

- Multiplication options. There has to be a willingness to accept that it is no longer possible for everyone to have a face-to-face relationship with everyone else. This requires a major change in attitude within the church or newcomers will pick up that established members feel that the church is becoming too big and impersonal. Often the way to deal with this is to provide multiplication options such as an additional Sunday meeting and/or an active small group ministry. Experience generally shows that such moves provide a growth spurt – as Keller records, ‘when you give more options, people opt!’

- A willingness to meet the cost of an additional primary ministry staffer. It should be a given that one full-time minister cannot personally shepherd more than 150-200 people. Specialists, such as youth workers, administrators and musicians can help with the span of pastoral care – the actual profile of this will vary with the local culture. Often a middle class environment will require such specialists earlier on in the process. The time will come when it will be necessary to employ a second full-time staff worker – such an appointment should be made for growth – and in essence that person must be able to aid growth and generate the giving to cover his/her salary. For this reason the second staffer is often an evangelist, unless one of the primary gifts of the senior leader is evangelism, in which case a pastoral gift would complement the situation and work on internal growth. At this stage the church can be big enough to give the senior leader a feeling of increasing burn-out but has not yet got to the point where it can/will pay for that second worker.