Understanding the Mid Size Church:
Instructor: Burt Brooks, the Brandermill Church
There is very little literature on Mid Size churches. The best is Lyle Schaller’s “The Middle Sized Church, 1995.” Mid Sized churches are “more a small large church” than a “large small church.” Its leaders can learn more from large literature than small. The Alban Institute is perhaps the best resource.
Barriers to Visioning in a congreation:
Energy is in the past.
Define Mid Size as having 100-250 in average worship attendance, (the people who make demands on the system).
5 Types of Mid-Sized Churches:
Growing into mid-sized from small membership
Growing out of Mid-sized into a large church
Declining from Large to Mid Sized
Declining from mid-sized to small*
Has plateaued at mid size and remains there.
Four size models:
Patriarchal/Matriarchal Church (up to 50 active) “family”, single cell, no anonymity, incorporates new members the way family does-by birth, marriage, adoption, newcomers encounter a gatekeeper, leadership controlled by patriarch/matriarchs, newcomers not fully accepted until the patriarch/matriarch says so-pastors included, newcomers who stay usually have family or friendship already, others leave, clergy as chaplain providing quality worship and visitation-part time and short term, have had their share of competent and incompetent pastors, church calendar=pastor’s calendar, pastors need to accommodate the P/M. A Family Type Church can grow as far as its matriarch/patriarch(s) will let it.
Pastoral . (50-150 active) Two or Three cells, united around common interests, leadership circle replaces Matriarch/Patriarch and quite often the Pastor is at the center of the circle. Pastor is involved in everything. Everyone, including newcomers expects pastor to do everything, Newcomers expect pastoral attention, bond with pastor first then members later, current members may be uninterested in newcomers, Inclusion of newcomers in core leadership may take time. Church may become annoyed when seems less interested in shut-ins, hospitalized, etc….Pastor may become overwhelmed by amount of coordination and management required, People become assimilated in small groups rather than the whole. Newcomers an get lost in the system. Church calendar starting to overwhelm pastor’s calendar.
Program (150-350 active) New members are primarily attracted by the programs. Pastor cannot attend to all of the organization or all of the people. Toolarge and too many. Staff, Committees, and Teams do most of the work. Board cannot stay on top of everything. Pastor spends more time training laity. Chronically understaffed and resourced.
Corporate (350-700 active) draws newcomers with its human, financial and physical resources for high quality ministries that may even rival major secular corporations and operate in a similar fashion. Complex and diverse array of programs, ministries, classes and committees. Senior Pastor seems even more distant from the congregation. Ministry areas may seem to be their own church. Senior pastor is known by relatively few people in the church. She or he functions as a symbol of unity and stability in an otherwise complex and seemingly fragmented organization.
The Pastoral to Program shift is the hardest to make. A common strategy is to hire more pastors when experiencing growth in an attempt to duplicate/ multiply small church experience. Family and pastor sized churches are led by a person. Program and corporate size churches lead by an organizational team.
Running multiple identical worship services as a growth strategy is no longer effective. If you’re going to add something, add something new. Research and prepare well beforehand.
In the small to mid size shift, these dynamics change:
Planning from reaction/quick response) to proactive/plan ahead
Length of appointed leadership tenure from short to long.
Pastoral role shifts from Chaplain to Vision caster
Attention shifts from pieces to systems
Relationship from personal connections to discipleship
Leadership style shifts from hands on to “leading once removed”
Questions to ask:
We are too big to_____________________ and we are too small to _______________.
We are big enough to_________________and small enough to___________________.
See “the Medium Sized Church” by Gary McIntosh.
The growing mid size church is under stress becuase it always has:
Inadequate finances (giving base is growing into its vision)
Stress is uncomfortable, so many growing churches back off and seek comfort in returning to a size that experiences its resources as adequate.
What do we have to work with?
Are we drifting into our future or leading toward a vision of the future?
Key questions for the mid size church:
How do we do discipleship development?
“ “Congregational care?
“ “Resource management and development?
Stewardship and Worship in the Mid Size Church
Stewardship is where many churches loose it straight up.
Stewardship is discipleship.
It’s much more than money, “The Earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof.”
The financial dimension can get lost in the way we emphasize the rest.
Most of the people in our churches are not poor, certainly not by global standards.
Many people on “fixed income” are now better off than working people and with fewer expenses.
Year round stewardship emphasis is the single most important factor in financial health. It is a ministry as important as missions, children, etc….
We need to open up portals for people to give in their normal manner. Many people under 65 do all their business on line.
Old way of thinking: visitor had spotlight shined in their face.
Now: Church is prepared to show who we are.
Each week: Introduce self and all who are leading worship (have a minimum of 3 visible), theme, and scripture.
Check bulletins for “insider information.”
Project announcement on pre-service screen.
Limit personal information-points to need for small groups.
What would make our worship a more excellent gift to God and to newcomers?
What would we be proud to broadcast?
Leading the Mid Size Church:
…is like getting into a boat with one foot still on the dock. You have one foot in the small membership world and are trying to get into a large membership church world. The current is not always going in your direction.
It helps to know where you’ve been.
***The single most important suggestion in this seminar for a healthy mid size church is you MUST plan at least a year out. (3-5 years is too much. )
Have a weekly planning day that includes taking with people and gathering resources.
Get in front of the plan. Good planning makes it enjoyable.
Have to both lead and manage a mid sized church.
Approach planning as a spiritual discipline. Burn out will come from poor planning.
A church that is without vision meets all the time and accomplishes little. The biblical motif for “catching vision” is a prophet/messenger.
Corporate Model: Biblical Model:
Vision So that we may be….
Mission We will do……
Bishop Devadhar: "Put down the microscope. Pick up the binoculars."