Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Keller on Church size - suggestions for very large churches

Be non-judgmental

Keller states that attaching moral significance to a particular church size can be an issue with moving to becoming a very large church. People view their preferred church size (often the smaller size, as that is likely to be all they may have known to that point) as the ideal and see the very large church not as ‘different’ but as ‘bad’. If your definition of an uncaring or unfriendly church is one where you can’t get the senior pastor on the phone as a matter of course, then you will not have a positive view of a very large church. For a church of 3000 it would be a disaster for the senior pastor to be available to everyone in this way – and at the same time if the pastor of a church of 150 tries to impose a larger church culture then that will also end in disaster.

A very large church is marked by:

     - change – the overall vision may stay the same but few of the programmes and practices are sacrosanct.
     - complexity – it is not immediately obvious who to talk to or involve in any given issue or decision and
        new events may have unforeseen consequences for other ministries.
     - formality – this is needed in greater measure, so plans have to be written and carefully executed rather
       than face-to-face and ‘on the hoof’.

These elements are the inevitable cost of ministry and should bring no moral aspersions with them.

Form smaller decision-making bodies

In general the larger the church, the fewer people should be involved in decision-making, because of the diversity of views likely to be present and the inevitability of a lengthening decision-making process with watered-down outcomes and compromises as a result. To maintain the same level of progress, decisiveness and intentionality from previous days the decision-making must be entrusted to fewer and fewer people. A very large church can be seen by some as undemocratic or unaccountable – a prime reason why many churches never grow to this size, or shrink again when they do.