Leadership and Church Dynamics

I thought I would share an article that is making rounds with the leadership at present.  It is one of the best articles I’ve come across that helps explain the dynamics of a growing church and the challenges it creates.  We are presently moving from a small church to a medium size church which demands a different structure altogether.

This is only a portion of the original article and I’ve attached the copyright information at the end. If you would like the entire article just let me know. I’ve posted the part that is directly related to our current circumstances.

Everyone who has interacted with the article has found it to be very helpful in explaining some of the tensions we are experiencing as a church. I hope you are challenged and inspired by not only the article but by the way, it so neatly frames what is happening in a positive way here at Village Green. This is a lengthy article but is worth the time to read.

LEADERSHIP AND CHURCH SIZE DYNAMICS

HOW STRATEGY CHANGES WITH GROWTH

[ DR. TIMOTHY KELLER ]
A church’s functional style, its strengths and weaknesses, and the roles of its lay and staff leaders will change dramatically as its size changes.

One of the most common reasons for pastoral leadership mistakes is blindness to the significance of church size. Size has an enormous impact on how a church functions. There is a “size culture” that profoundly affects how decisions are made, how relationships flow, how effectiveness is evaluated, and what ministers, staff, and lay leaders do.

We tend to think of the chief differences between churches mainly in denominational or theological terms, but that underestimates the impact of size on how a church operates. The difference between how churches of 100 and 1,000 function may be much greater than the difference between a Presbyterian and a Baptist church of the same size. The staff person who goes from a church of 400 to a church of 2,000 is in many ways making a far greater change than if he or she moved from one denomination to another.

A large church is not simply a bigger version of a small church. The difference in communication, community formation, and decision-making processes are so great that the leadership skills required in each are of almost completely different orders.

SIZE CULTURES

Every church has a culture that goes with its size and which must be accepted. Most people tend to prefer a certain size culture, and unfortunately, many give their favorite size culture a moral status and treat other size categories as spiritually and morally inferior. They may insist that the only biblical way to do church is to practice a certain size culture despite the fact that the congregation they attend is much too big or too small to fit that culture.

For example, if some members of a church of 2,000 feel they should be able to get the senior pastor personally on the phone without much difficulty, they are insisting on getting a kind of pastoral care that a church of under 200 provides. Of course the pastor would soon be overwhelmed. Yet the members may insist that if he can’t be reached he is failing his biblical duty to be their shepherd.

Another example: the new senior pastor of a church of 1,500 may insist that virtually all decisions be made by con- sensus among the whole board and staff. Soon the board is meeting every week for six hours each time! Still the pastor may insist that for staff members to be making their own decisions would mean they are acting unaccount- ably or failing to build community. To impose a size-culture practice on a church that does not have that size will wreak havoc on it and eventually force the church back into the size with which the practices are compatible.

A further example: New members who have just joined a smaller church after years of attending a much larger one may begin complaining about the lack of professional quality in the church’s ministries and insisting that this shows a lack of spiritual excellence. The real problem, however, is that in the smaller church volunteers do things that in the larger church are done by full-time staff. Similarly, new members of the smaller church might complain that the pastor’s sermons are not as polished and well researched as they had come to expect in the larger church. While a large-church pastor with multiple staff can afford to put twenty hours a week into sermon preparation, however, the solo pastor of a smaller church can devote less than half of that time each week.

This means a wise pastor may have to sympathetically confront people who are just not able to handle the church’s size culture—just like many people cannot adapt to life in geographic cultures different from the one they were used to. Some people are organizationally suspicious, often for valid reasons from their experience. Others can’t handle not having the preacher as their pastor. We must suggest to them they are asking for the impossible in a church that size. We must not imply that it would be immaturity on their part to seek a different church, though we should not actively encourage anyone to leave, either.

HEALTHY RESISTANCE

Every church has aspects of its natural size culture that must be resisted.

Larger churches have a great deal of difficulty keeping track of members who drop out or fall away from the faith. This should never be accepted as inevitable. Rather, the large church must continually struggle to improve pastoral care and discipleship.

Out of necessity, the large church must use organizational techniques from the business world, but the danger is that ministry may become too results-oriented and focused on quantifiable outcomes (attendance, membership, giving) rather than the goals of holiness and character growth. Again, this tendency should not be accepted as inevitable; rather, new strategies for focusing on love and virtue must always be generated.

The smaller church by its nature gives immature, outspoken, opinionated, and broken members a significant degree of power over the whole body. Since everyone knows everyone else, when members of a family or small group express strong opposition to the direction set by the pastor and leaders, their misery can hold the whole congregation hostage. If they threaten to leave, the majority of people will urge the leaders to desist in their project. It is extremely difficult to get complete consensus about programs and direction in a group of 50–150 people, especially in today’s diverse, fragmented society, and yet smaller churches have an unwritten rule that for any new initiative to be implemented nearly everyone must be happy with it. Leaders of small churches must be brave enough to lead and to confront immature members, in spite of the unpleasantness involved.

There is no “best size” for a church. Each size presents great difficulties and also many opportunities for ministry that churches of other sizes cannot undertake (at least not as well). Only together can churches of all sizes be all that Christ wants the church to be.

PRINCIPLES OF SIZE DYNAMICS

Reading books on church size can be confusing, as everyone breaks down the size categories somewhat differently. This is because there are many variables in a church’s culture and history that determine exactly when a congregation gets to a new size barrier. For example, everyone knows that at some point a church becomes too large for one pastor to handle. People begin to complain that they are not getting adequate pastoral care. The time has come to add staff. But when does that happen? In some communities it may happen when attendance rises to 120, while in others it does not happen until the church has nearly 300 in regular attendance. It depends a great deal on expectations, the mobility of the city’s population, how fast the church has grown, and so on. Despite the variables, the point at which a second pastoral staff member must be added is usually called “the 200 barrier.” That is a good average figure, but keep in mind that your own church might reach that threshold at some different attendance figure.

Here are the general trends or changes that come as a church grows larger.

INCREASING COMPLEXITY

The larger the church, the less its members have in common. There is more diversity in factors such as age, family status, ethnicity, and so on, and thus a church of 400 needs four to five times more programs than a church of 200—not two times more. Larger churches are much more complex than their smaller counterparts. They have multiple services, multiple groups, and multiple tracks, and eventually they really are multiple congregations.

Also, the larger the church, the more staff per capita needs to be added. Often the first ministry staff persons are added for every increase of 150–200 in attendance. A church of 500 may have two or three full-time ministry staff, but eventually ministry staff may need to be added for every 75–100 new persons. Thus a church of 2,000 may have twenty-five staff.

SHIFTING LAY-STAFF RESPONSIBILITIES

On the one hand, the larger the church the more decision making falls to the staff rather than to the whole membership or even the lay leaders. The elders or board must increasingly deal with only top-level, big-picture issues. This means the larger the church, the more decision making is pushed up toward the staff and away from the congregation and lay leaders. Needless to say, many laypeople feel extremely uncomfortable with this.

On the other hand, the larger the church, the more the basic pastoral ministry such as hospital visits, discipling, oversight of Christian growth, and counseling is done by lay leaders rather than by the professional ministers.

Generally, in small churches policy is decided by many and ministry is done by a few, while in the large church ministry is done by many and policy is decided by a few.

INCREASING INTENTIONALITY

The larger the church, the more systematic and deliberate the assimilation of newcomers needs to be. As a church grows, newcomers are not visible to the congregation’s members. Thus new people are not spontane- ously and informally welcomed and invited in. Pathways for assimilation must be identified or established by asking questions such as these:

  • How will newcomers get here?
  • How will they be identified by the church?
  • Where will unbelievers learn Christianity’s relevance, content, and credibility?
  • Who will move them along the path?
  • Where will believers get plugged in?
  • Who will help them?The larger the church, the harder it is to recruit volunteers and thus a more well-organized volunteer recruitment process is required. Why is this so? First, the larger the church, the more likely it is that someone you don’t know well will try to recruit you. It is much easier to say no to someone you do not know than to someone you know well. Second, it is easier to feel less personally responsible for the ministries of a large church: “They have lots of people here—they don’t need me.” Therefore, the larger the church, the more well-organized and formal the recruitment of volunteers must be.

INCREASING REDUNDANCY OF COMMUNICATION

The larger the church, the better communication has to be. Without multiple forms and repeated messages, people will feel left out and complain, “I wasn’t told about it.” You know you’ve crossed into a higher size category when such complaints become constant. Informal communication networks (pulpit announcements, newsletter notices, and word of mouth) are insufficient to reach everyone. More lead time is necessary to communicate well.

INCREASING QUALITY OF PRODUCTION

The larger the church, the more planning and organization must go into events. A higher quality of production in general is expected in a larger church and events cannot simply be thrown together. Spontaneous, last- minute events do not work.

The larger the church, the higher its aesthetic bar must be. In smaller churches the worship experience is rooted mainly in horizontal relationships among those who attend. Musical offerings from singers who are untrained and not especially talented are nonetheless appreciated because “we all know them” and they are members of the fellowship. But the larger the church, the more worship is based on the vertical relationship— on a sense of transcendence. If an outsider comes in who doesn’t know the musicians, then a mediocre quality of production will distract them from worship. They don’t have a relationship with the musicians to offset the lack of giftedness. So the larger the church, the more the music becomes an inclusion factor.

INCREASING OPENNESS TO CHANGE

The larger the church, the more it is subject to frequent and sudden change. Why?

First, smaller churches tend to have little turnover: individual members feel powerful and necessary and so they stay put.

Second, the larger the church, the more power for decision making moves away from the whole congregation to the leaders and staff. Too much is going on for the congregation or the board or eventually even the staff to make all the decisions as a group. As decision-making power comes into the hands of individual staff or volunteer leaders, change happens more quickly. Decisions can be made expeditiously without everyone signing on.

Further, as we saw above, the larger the church, the more complex it is and therefore the more schedules, events, and programs there are to change.

LOSING MEMBERS BECAUSE OF CHANGES

The larger the church, the more it loses members because of changes. Why? Smaller churches seek at all costs to avoid losing members. As a result, certain individuals and small groups often come to exercise power dis- proportionate to their numbers. If a change were made, someone invariably would experience it as a loss, and since the smaller church has a great fear of conflict, it usually will not institute a change that might result in lost members. Thus smaller churches tend to have a more stable membership than large churches do.

In larger churches small groups and individual members have far less ability to exert power or resist changes they dislike. And (as noted previously) since larger churches undergo constant change, they regularly lose members because “It’s too big now” or “I can’t see the pastor anymore” or “We don’t pray spontaneously any- more in church.” Leaders of churches that grow large are more willing to lose members who disagree with procedures or the philosophy of ministry.

SHIFTING ROLE OF THE MINISTERS

The larger the church, the less available the main preacher is to do pastoral work. In smaller churches the pastor is available at all times, for most occasions and needs, to any member or unchurched person. In the large church there are sometimes more lay ministers, staff, and leaders than the small church has people! So the large church’s pastors must recognize their limits and spend more time with staff and lay shepherds and in prayer and meditation.

The larger the church, the more important the minister’s leadership abilities are. Preaching and pastoring are sufficient skills for pastors in smaller churches, but as a church grows other leadership skills become critical. In a large church not only administrative skills but also vision casting and strategy design are crucial gifts in the pastoral team.

The larger the church, the more the ministry staff members must move from being generalists to being specialists. Everyone from the senior pastor on down must focus on certain ministry areas and concentrate on two or three main tasks. The larger the church, the more the senior pastor must specialize in preaching, vision keeping and vision casting, and identifying problems before they become disasters.

Finally, the larger the church, the more important it is for ministers, especially the senior minister, to stay put for a long time. As noted above, smaller churches change less rapidly and have less turnover. With this innate stability, a smaller church can absorb a change of minister every few years if necessary. But the larger the church, the more the staff in general and the senior pastor in particular are the main sources of continuity and stability. Rapid turnover of staff is highly detrimental to a large church.

GENERALLY, IN SMALL CHURCHES POLICY IS DECIDED BY MANY AND MINISTRY IS DONE BY A FEW, WHILE IN THE LARGE CHURCH MINISTRY IS DONE BY MANY, AND POLICY IS DECIDED BY A FEW.

STRUCTURING SMALLER

The larger the church, the smaller the basic pastoral span of care.

In smaller churches, classes and groups can be larger because virtually everyone in the church is cared for directly by full-time trained ministry staff, each of whom can care for 50–200 people. In larger churches, however, the internal groupings need to be smaller, because people are cared for by lay shepherds, each of whom can care for 10–20 people if given proper supervision and support. Thus in a larger church, the more small groups you have per 100 people in attendance, the better cared for people are and the faster the church grows.

EMPHASIS ON VISION AND STRENGTHS

The larger the church, the more it tends to concentrate on doing fewer things well. Smaller churches are gen- eralists and feel the need to do everything. This comes from the power of the individual in a small church. If any member wants the church to address some issue, then the church makes an effort in order to please him or her. The larger church, however, identifies and concentrates on approximately three or four major things and works to do them extremely well, despite calls for new emphases.

Further, the larger the church, the more a distinctive vision becomes important to its members. The reason for being in a smaller church is relationships. The reason for putting up with all the changes and difficulties of a larger church is to get mission done. People join a larger church because of the vision—so the particular mission needs to be clear.

The larger the church, the more it develops its own mission outreach rather than supporting already existing programs. Smaller churches tend to support denominational mission causes and contribute to existing para- church ministries. Leaders and members of larger churches feel more personally accountable to God for the kingdom mandate and seek to either start their own mission ministries or to form partnerships in which there is more direct accountability of the mission agency to the church.

Consequently, the larger the church, the more its lay leaders need to be screened for agreement on vision and philosophy of ministry, not simply for doctrinal and moral standards. In smaller churches, people are eligible for leadership on the basis of membership tenure and faithfulness. In larger churches, where a distinctive mission and vision are more important, it is important to enlist without apology leaders who share a common philosophy of ministry with the staff and other leaders.

SPECIFIC SIZE CATEGORIES

HOUSE CHURCH: UP TO 40 ATTENDANCE

Character

  • The house church is often called a “store front church” in urban areas and a “country church” in rural areas.
  • It operates essentially as an extended small group. It is a highly relational church in which everyone knows everyone else intimately.
  • Lay leaders are extremely powerful and they emerge relationally—they are not appointed or elected. They are usually the people who have been at the church the longest and have devoted the most time and money to the work.
  • Decision making is democratic and informal and requires complete consensus. Decisions aremadebyinfor- mal relational process. If any member is unhappy with a course of action, it is not taken by the church.
  • Communication is by word of mouth, and information moves very swiftly through the whole membership.
  • The pastor is often a “tentmaker” and does church ministry part time, though once a church has at least ten families who tithe, it can support a full-time minister. The minister’s main job is shepherding, not leading or preaching.How it growsHouse churches grow in the most organic possible way—through attraction to their warmth, relationships, and people. New people are simply invited and continue to come because they are befriended. There is no “program” of outreach.Crossing the threshold to the next size categoryThe house church, like any small group, gets to saturation rather quickly. Once it gets to 40+ people, the intense face-to-face relationships become impossible to maintain. It then faces a choice: either multiplying off another house-church or growing out of the “house-church dynamics” into the next size category, the small church.If it does not do either, evangelism becomes essentially impossible. The fellowship itself then can easily become ingrown and stagnant—somewhat stifling, sometimes legalistic.

    An ongoing problem for the stand-alone church of this size is the low quality of ministry to specific groups like children, youth, and singles. If it opts to multiply into another house church, the two (and eventually several) house churches can form an association and do things like youth ministry together. They can also meet for joint worship services periodically.

    If it opts to grow out of the house-church size into a small church, it needs to prepare its people to do this by acknowledging the losses of intimacy, spontaneity, and informality and agreeing to bear these as a cost of mission, of opening its ranks to new people. This has to be a consensus group decision, to honor the dynamics of the house church even as it opts to change those dynamics.

SMALL CHURCH: 40–200 ATTENDANCE

Character

  • The range of this category goes from churches that are barely out of the house-church stage up to churches that are ready for multiple staff. But they all share the same basic characteristics.
  • While the relational dynamics are now less intense, there is still a strong expectation that every member must have a face-to-face relationship with every other member.
  • And while there are now appointed and elected leaders, the informal leadership system remains extremely  strong. There are several laypeople—regardless of their official status—who are “opinion leaders.” If they don’t approve of new measures the rest of the members will not support the changes.
  • Communication is still informal, mostly word of mouth, and relatively swift.
  • The pastor is still primarily a shepherd. While in a larger church people will let you pastor them if you are a good preacher, in a smaller church the reverse is true: people will listen to your sermons if you are a good pastor.
  • Effective, loving shepherding of every member is the driving force of ministry—not leadership or even speaking ability. A pastor who says, “I shouldn’t have to shepherd every member, I’ve delegated that to my elders or small group leaders,” is trying to practice large-church dynamics in a small-church environment.
  • However, as the congregation grows the pastor of a small church will feel more and more need for administrative leadership skills. Small churches do not require much in the way of vision casting or strategizing, but they do eventually present a need for program planning, mobilization of volunteers, and other administrative tasks.
  • Changes are still processed relationally and informally by the whole congregation, not just the leaders. But since the congregation is larger, decisions take a longer time than in either the house church or the medium-sized church. Ultimately, however, change in a small church happens from the bottom up through key lay leaders. No major changes can be made unless you get at least one of these people to be an ally and an advocate for them.How it growsLike house churches, small churches grow through newcomers’ attraction to the relationships in the congregation. However, in the small church it can also be a personal relationship to the pastor that is the primary attraction for a new person. The pastor can begin two or three new ministries, classes, or groups, as long as he has secured the backing or participation of one key informal leader. Together they can begin a new activity that will bring many new people into the church.Crossing the threshold to the next size categoryThis church may eventually face the famous “200 barrier.” To make room for more than 200 people in a church takes a significant commitment to some or all of the following changes.

First change—multiplication options.

  • There must be a willingness to question the unwritten policy that every voting member should have a face-to-face relationship with every other member.
  • When a church gets to the place where the older members begin to realize that there are members whom they barely know or don’t know at all, the complaint may be voiced in a tone of moral authority: “This church is getting too big.” Another form of this complaint is that the church is getting “impersonal.” Essentially, this attitude must change if newcomers are to be welcomed.
  • Often the key change that a congregation must allow is a move to multiplying options such as more than one Sunday service, or putting more emphasis on small group ministry than on having one unified corporate prayer meeting.
  • As a general rule, multiplying options generate a growth spurt. The single best way to increase attendance is to multiply Sunday services. Two services will immediately draw more people than one service did. Four Sunday school electives will generally draw more people than two Sunday school electives. Why? Because when you give people more options, more people opt!
  • Second change—a willingness to pay the cost of an additional primary ministry staff person.
    • It is a sociological fact that a full-time minister cannot personally shepherd more than about 150–200 people. At some point any pastor will lose the ability to personally visit, stay in touch, and be reasonably available to all the people of a growing congregation.
    • The minister’s span of pastoral care can be stretched with part-time or full-time specialty or administrative staff, such as children’s workers, secretaries, administrators, and musicians,. There are variations to this figure depending on the minister’s personality and energy level and the local culture. For example, a more white-collar community tends to demand far more specialized programs than does a working-class com- munity, and therefore you may find in such a place that you need a full-time ministry staff person for every 100–150 in attendance.
    • Eventually that second ministry staff person must be hired. This is commonly another ordained pastor, but it could be a layperson who is a counselor, overseer of small groups, or supervisor of programs who does a lot of shepherding work and teaching. It is important to be sure that this second person really can grow the church and, practically speaking, grow the giving that will pay his or her salary. So, for example, it may not be best to have the second ministry staff person be a youth minister; it would be better to hire a small group minister or a minister of evangelism and outreach. Or, if the senior minister is excellent at outreach, the second staff worker could be a pastor/counselor who complements the gifts of the first minister and works on the church’s internal growth. Initial staffing must be for growth.
    • The tension that often arises in a church this size is that the church is big enough that the pastor begins to feel burned out but is not yet big enough to financially support a second minister.
  • Third change—a willingness to let power shift away from the laity and even lay leaders to the staff.
    • As you get to this size barrier, the old approach to decision making, which required that everyone to come to a consensus, becomes far too slow and unwieldy. In the consensus model of decision making, it is con- sidered impossible to proceed with a change if any member is strongly opposed, especially if it appears that the change would actually result in some people’s leaving the church.
    • As a church nears the 200 barrier, there is almost always someone who experiences the concomitant changes as a loss. Therefore no changes will ever occur unless many of the decisions that used to involve the whole membership now shift to the leaders and staff. But it is not just that the laity must cede power to the leaders. Long-time lay leaders must also cede power to the staff and volunteer leaders.
    • In a smaller church the lay leaders often know more about the members than the pastor does. The lay leaders have been there longer and thus have more knowledge of the past, more trust from the members, and more knowledge of the members’ abilities, capacities, interests, and opinions.
    • Once a church gets beyond 200, however, the staff tends to know more about the church members than the lay leaders do, and increasingly the new members in particular take their cues from the pastor(s) rather than from the lay leaders.
    • The lay officers’ board or elders will no longer be able to sign off on absolutely everything and will have to let the staff and individual volunteer leaders make many decisions on their own.
  • Fourth change—a willingness to become more formal and deliberate in assimilation and communication.

• For a church to move beyond this barrier it can no longer assume that communication and the assimila- tion of newcomers will happen “naturally,” without any planning. Communication will have to become more deliberate instead of by word of mouth alone. Newcomers will have to be folded in more intention- ally. For example, every new family could be assigned a “sponsor” for six months—a member family who invites the new family over to their home, brings them to a new members’ class, and so on.

  • Fifth change—the ability and willingness of both the pastor and the people for the pastor to do shepherding a bit less and leading a bit more.
    • The next-size church requires a bit more vision casting and strategizing and a lot more administrative know-how. The pastor of the medium-sized church will have to spend much more time recruiting and supervising volunteers and programs to do ministry that in the smaller church he would have done him- self. This takes administrative skills of planning, delegating, supervising, and organizing.
    • In this next-size church the pastor is simply less available and accessible to every member. Even with the hiring of additional ministry staff, every member will not be able to have the same access to the senior pastor as he or she did before. Both the people and the senior minister need to acknowledge and accept this cost.
  • Sixth change—considering the option of moving to a new space and facilities.• Will such a move be crucial to breaking the next growth barrier? Sometimes, but not usually. Usually what is needed is planning multiple worship services, staffing for growth, and adjusting attitudes and expectations in preparation for a new size culture.MEDIUM-SIZED CHURCH, 200–450 ATTENDANCECharacter
  • In smaller churches, each member is acquainted with the entire membership of the church. The primary circle of belonging is the church as a whole. But in the medium-sized church, the primary circle of belonging is usually a specific affinity class or program. Men’s and women’s ministries, the choir, the couples’ class, the evening worship team, the local prison ministry, the meals-on-wheels ministry—all of these are possible circles of belonging that make the church fly. Each of these subgroups is approximately the size of the house church, 10–40 people.
  • Leadership functions differently in the medium-sized church.
    • First, since the medium-sized church has far more complexity, the leaders must represent the various constituencies in the church (e.g., the older people, the young families).
    • Second, there is too much work to be handled by a small board. There are now influential leadership teams or committees, such as the missions committee or the music/worship committee, that have significant power.
    • Third, because of the two factors above, leaders begin to be chosen less on the basis of length of tenure and strength of personality and more on the basis of skills and giftedness.
    • Fourth, the role of the lay officers or board begins to change. In the smaller church, the officers basically oversee the pastor and staff, giving or withholding permission for various proposals. The pastor and staff then do the ministry. In the medium-sized church, the officers begin to do more of the ministry them- selves, in partnership with the staff. Volunteer ministry leaders often rise up and become the decision- making leaders. Chairs of influential committees sit on the official board.
  • As noted above, the senior minister shifts somewhat from being a shepherd toward becoming a “rancher.” Rather than doing all of the ministry himself, he becomes a trainer and organizer of laypeople doing ministry. He also must be adept at training, supporting, and supervising ministry and administrative staff. At the medium-sized church level, this requires significant administrative skills.
  • While in the smaller church change and decisions come from the bottom up through key lay people, in the medium-sized church change happens through key committees and teams. Ordinarily the official board or session in the medium-sized church is inherently conservative. They feel very responsible and do not want to offend any constituents they believe they represent. Therefore change is usually driven by forward- thinking committees such as the missions committee or the evangelism committee. These can be very effective in persuading the congregation to try new things.

How it grows

As noted earlier, smaller churches grow mainly through pastor-initiated groups, classes, and ministries. The medium-sized church will also grow as it multiplies classes, groups, services, and ministries, but the key to medium-sized growth is improving the quality of the ministries and their effectiveness to meet real needs. The small church can accommodate amateurish quality because the key attraction is its intimacy and family-like warmth. But the medium-sized church’s ministries must be different. Classes really must be great learning experiences. Music must meet aesthetic needs. Preaching must inform and inspire.

Crossing the threshold to the next size category

I have said that the small church crosses the 200 barrier through (1) multiplying options, (2) going to multiple staff, (3) shifting decision-making power away from the whole membership, (4) becoming more formal and deliberate in assimilation, and (5) moving the pastor away from shepherding everyone to being more of an organizer/administrator. You can grow beyond 200 without making all of these five changes; in fact, most churches do. Often churches grow past 200 while holding on to one or more of the smaller-church attitudes. For example, if the senior minister is multigifted and energetic, he can take care of the organizational/admin- istrative work and still have time to visit every member of his church. Or perhaps new staff persons are added but the decision-making is still done on a whole-congregation consensus model. But to break 400, you must firmly break the old habits in all five areas. As for the sixth change—moving to new space and facilities—this is usually needed for a medium-sized church to break the growth barrier, but not always.

Copyright © 2006 by Timothy Keller, © 2010 by Redeemer City to City. This article first appeared in The Movement Newsletter, and was reprinted in the Spring 2008 edition of Cutting Edge magazine, Vineyard USA.

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