Often, the size of your church is held captive by the worldview of those who attend. If they come from a large megachurch, your large church, to them, may seem small. This is an important factor when adding staff. If staff come to your church from a larger church, each carries a vision based on one of two possibilities: “This is a small church, so I’ll adapt to it” and contribute to a plateau. Or, “I will continue to operate as a larger church, like where I served before” and will project future elements that allow growth for your church. While it seems strange, these issues are almost never discussed.

When we consult a church, we ask everyone in the congregation, “Is this a small, medium-sized, or large church?” Why? Perception drives behavior. At the heart of many disagreements among Christians is the unspoken and very different perceptions about the relative size of the church. Most often, church members err on the side of smaller. When they do, they may try to limit the size of the staff, underestimate their church’s potential to accomplish greater ministry, and have a scarcity mentality toward finances—what the church can afford.

silhouette-936724_1280We help Christians reflect about the size of their church to help them consider more God-sized possibilities. We ask, “Among all the churches in the country, what percentage of churches, by size, do you think your church fits? If the smallest churches are at 1%, and the largest churches are at 100%, where would your church fall?” Here is the logic of this exercise: if you rank your church at 60%, it means that 59% of the churches in the country are smaller and 39% are larger. On a recent Staffing Consultation at a fairly large church, we asked each staff person to rank the percentile of their church by size. Among the eight staff persons, one ranked the church at 97%. However, two ranked the size at 40%. What does this imply about the way they think, act, and carry out their style and approach to ministry? What does it reflect about each staff member’s views about the appropriate structure for their area of ministry?

In this same church, we asked the entire congregation whether this was a small, medium-sized, or large church. Here are the results:

  • Small 3%
  • Medium 74%
  • Large 23%

While 3% of the congregation said their church was relatively small and 74% said that is was medium-sized, the actual ranking among all churches in the country was in the 96th percentile. This means only 4% of the churches in the country are larger and 95% are smaller.

What do you think that means for the worldview—the mentality—for the people in that church? How does it limit the realm of their possibilities for ministry? How does it affect their view of the number of staff the church should have? How does it impact their understanding of the appropriate salary for the senior pastor? What does it communicate about the potential their congregation has to impact their community for Jesus Christ?

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 emailTwitter, Facebook, or visit www.churchdoctor.org.

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