Whenever your church changes size, it is the same congregation in substance. A larger or smaller version of your church should maintain the same culture: values, beliefs, attitudes, priorities, and worldviews. The change in size may not change your philosophy of ministry—the unique personality of your church. A philosophy of ministry statement that describes who you are (as opposed to what you do) should be the continuing thread as your church changes size.
Think of it this way: two people marry and form a household. If it is a good marriage, they will develop some clear similarities: values, beliefs, attitudes, priorities, and worldviews. As they have one child, then another and another, they reflect these cultural markers to their children. The size of their family will not, should not, change their basic philosophy of marriage and family. However, most organize and operate larger families differently—for efficiency, if not for survival.
As your church grows, it must change in style and structure. The pastor of the smaller church transitions into the senior pastor of a staff. The structure changes. The style of how the senior pastor serves is different. In the large church, the senior pastor may not know everyone in the congregation, can’t visit everyone in their homes, and can’t be present at every ministry activity.
In the larger church, worship changes from one service with everyone present to multiple services, sometimes with different styles, often in different locations, on or off the original church campus.
The decision-making group of the larger church should change in three structural ways: (1) it should become smaller as the church grows larger, relying on more input from staff; (2) it should focus on vision and direction: “big picture issues”; and (3) not get involved in management issues.
A larger church is, in style and structure, a different church. If your church operates in the same way it did when it was smaller, it will self prune: it will move in the direction of being smaller to fit the smaller style and structure. The result? The inefficiency of operations, based on the smaller version, will frustrate church members. As ministry efforts “fall through the cracks” of a structure that doesn’t fit the body, people become annoyed…and leave.
An important element of structural size is the operational styles of staff. If staff only adjust to the new larger size, the church will plateau—stop growing. This is why staff, leadership styles and structure should reflect the feel of the “next” size, not the present size of your church. A church should be always growing into its next size. Have you ever purchased clothes for a child?
What if some staff are unable to grow into the next size of style and structure? The church could plateau or begin to decline. This is not the only cause of a declining church, but it is one most overlooked.
We welcome your comments below.
This is excerpted from Size Matters: Staffing Your Church — September/October 2015 Church Doctor Report.
Kent Hunter, founder of Church Doctor Ministries, is known as the Church Doctor. His most recent e-books are The Future Is Now and The J-Dog Journey, available at no cost. Contact him at (800) 626-8515, by email, Twitter, Facebook, or visit www.churchdoctor.org.