One of my heroes of the faith is New York pastor and thinker, Tim Keller. He’s written a great article on Church Size (HT: Steve McCoy) that I’ve emailed to many – but forgotten to post about.
Every church has aspects of its natural size culture, which must be resisted. Just a few brief examples:
* Larger churches have a great deal of difficulty keeping track of members who begin to 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) because of the natural tendency of management-by-objective. The goals of holiness and character growth can be overlooked. Again, this tendency should not be accepted as inevitable; but 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 far more power over the whole body. Since everyone knows everyone else, when a family or small group of members express strong opposition to the direction set by the pastor and leaders, that small group’s 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 from a group of 50-150 people about program and direction, especially in today’s diverse, fragmented society. Yet in smaller churches there is an unwritten rule that most everyone must be happy with any new initiative in order for it to be implement. Leaders of small churches must be brave enough to lead and to confront immature members in spite of its unpleasantness.