Presented by Dr. J. Melvyn Ming at the Oregon Ministry Network Leadership Summit April 21, 2010.
Observation #1. What size are churches? (Church Organization by Size Adapted from Gary L. McIntosh’s One Size Doesn’t Fit All: Bringing Out the Best in Any Size Church):
In the US and Canada, there are approximately 488,000 churches. Several observations about these churches:
- 80% of these churches average less than 200 in attendance each week. 20% average more than 200. So 4 out of 5 churches run 200 or less.
- 50% of churches average between 55 and 249 in weekly attendance. This is half of all churches.
- 15% of churches average over 250 in attendance each week (or 3 out of 20).
- Most churches are small or medium size.
- 50% of all attendees attend a church of 350 or larger.
- 50 is a major cluster point, and under 200 is dominant.
- Churches tend to show the same attendance distribution, no matter what the denomination or theology. Size does not seem to correlate with denomination or beliefs.
Observation #2. Do all churches need to be large?
Absolutely not! This is true for many reasons:
1) For example, the church could be located in a small town or area, with limited population. Even if they had everyone, they would not be large.
2) Another reason might be their philosophy of ministry. They would rather plant additional churches in their ministry areas and give away part of their congregation. This is true of many organic church plants.
So not all churches need to be large, but all churches need to be Missional (that is externally focused) and Healthy (reflecting loving growing relationships and having a positive impact on their community).
Observation #3. Does growth or size prove health?
Absolutely NOT, again!
Growth or size of the church is not necessarily an indicator of health or effectiveness.
You can be large and unhealthy and you can be small and unhealthy. You can be large and healthy and you can be small and healthy.
Growth or Size does not prove health.
BUT, neither does lack of growth or size.
Observation #4. What changes occur as a church becomes larger?
Tim Keller has identified nine general trends or changes that result from a church growing larger. I think these are very helpful as we consider breaking growth barriers.
1. Increasing complexity
2. Shifting lay-staff responsibilities
3. Increasing intentionality
4. Increasing quality of production
5. Increasing openness to change
6. Losing members because of changes
7. Shifting role of the ministers
8. Structuring smaller
9. Emphasis on vision and strengths
What causes growth barriers and what do we do about it?
Barrier #1. The first and most significant major barrier is mission confusion.
Many churches think their mission is to:
- Preserve the past
- Maintain a certain style of worship
- Serve those already reached
- Maintain their theological distinctive
- Keep their culture
They have forgotten that the church belongs to God and He sets the mission.
A. Being Missional Starts with Christ! (Christology)
- John 14:6
- Acts 4:12
- Acts 16:30-31
Being missional is NOT about preserving our
- Or even our distinctives
Being missional is NOT a missions program or missions giving.
It is about Christ!
Christ is what makes us Christian!
It is living Christ’s life out before our world.
B. Christ’s Mission Determines Our Mission (Missiology)
What has Christ sent us to do?
- Luke 19:10
- John 17:18
- John 20:21
- Matthew 28:18-20
- Acts 1:8
- 2 Corinthians 5:14-15
C. What Is A Missional Church? (Ecclesiology)
Christ’s Mission Determines How We Do Church
The mission of the Church is that of its founder – Jesus Christ! The Church is to do the work of Christ in this world.
The question is not, “How big is your church?” BUT “How big is the impact you are having on your community?” For example, would anybody outside your congregation miss your church if you ceased to exist?
D. How does God want me to serve His mission? (Ministry)
Christ’s Mission is Redemptive
1. The mission involves living Christ’s life before others.
This is more than just “presence” as some would suggest.
2. The mission has a message – the Gospel
2 Corinthians 5:18-19
Missional living means Loving God.
1 Corinthians 2:2
Missional living means Loving others.
1 Corinthians 13:1
1 John 4:19-21
Missional living means Sharing Him with others.
1 Thessalonians 2:8
Solution: Be Biblically Missional
Barrier #2. The second major barrier is the pastor and the church not understanding that the role of the pastor must change as a church grows.
The Solution to the second major barrier is to Grow as a leader and help your people understand why your role is changing.
- From leader of people to
- leader of staff to
- leader of a team to
- leader of leaders
3. The third major barrier is that not everyone wants the church to grow.
This can be for many reasons:
- They are comfortable with the size of church you now have.
- Socially and psychologically, they are uncomfortable in crowds.
- They have only known smaller churches, so a large church is foreign to them.
- They are worried about being lost in a larger church. They like being noticed.
- Or it could again be mission confusion. They think the church is for them and their needs.
The Solution to the third major barrier is twofold:
- With good “change leadership”, most people can break through these cultural and social barriers and go with you as you grow.
- But you must recognize that you will lose some if you grow.
As hard as this is, for the sake of Christ and His mission, you must be willing to stay on course, even if it means you will lose some people.
4. The fourth major barrier is that many people assume a larger church is just a small church larger.
Nothing could be farther from the truth.
A larger church must change organizationally and culturally. Why? Because of the complexity and logistics more people bring.
Thus, a church of 400 needs 4 to5 times the structure of a church of 200 — not 2 times more.
Solution: Study churches that are one or two sizes larger than you are. Learn the organizational changes you will need to make.
So, What causes a church to grow?
… and His followers who engage in His mission.