In an attempt to follow a biblical model for church ministry, I thought that I would mention a few thoughts of mine regarding churches and the prevailing attitudes within various sized churches. I admit that these are not based on research, but on observations, and there are stereotypes that are inherent in my thoughts. I will say that I have firsthand experience to varying degrees of least some of these attitudes:
- The Family Church- small church (usually 100 or less in worship), run by a few families, heart to grow, but most members desire a pastor that is more of a chaplain than a preacher. Usually single staff pastor with a part time minister. Out of necessity to have a continuous ministry, deacons can often be administrative in nature. However, much of the administration is done by lay persons and through monthly business meetings, though some churches function as a pastor led “dictatorship.”
- The Transitional Church- small to mid sized church (100-200), some families still influence; heart to grow; most members desire a pastor to hold several duties (chaplain, evangelist, administrator, and preacher). Deacons are more free to be ministers of people instead of administrators. Critical time for the church as a lack of infrastructural change (ie. growth in the staffing or worship space) will begin to hinder ministry.
- The Expanding Church– mid sized church (200-350), some families that influenced in the past no longer hold as much sway; heart to grow; most members desire a pastor to lead staff, administrate, and preach (possibly multiple services). Deacons are ministers of people. With the addition of full time staffing, much of the ministry is now able to be spread out among several pastors. A church identity is formed and expressed in a sort of church “branding” to best express the heart of the church to the community. A culture must developed that emphasizes excellence in ministry, that embraces change, and that emphasizes gifts to be used in ministry.
- The Large Church- multiple full time staffed church with large worship attendance (350-1000); pastoral staff holds sway in ministry decisions; heart to grow; most members desire pastor to lead and preach. The possibility of an executive pastor might exist to remove some of the administrative burdens off of the senior pastor. Deacons enhance pastoral ministry through ministry of people. A church “branding” begins to occur, with a clear identity of the church expressed to the community. An intentional coordination among staff and key lay leaders might need to occur on a daily or weekly basis in order to best facilitate ministry.
- The Mega Church- Large gatherings, often in multiple services (1000+). Pastoral staff administrates with associates in formed departments. Many members desire pastor to be a figure head, a visionary, and a preacher. Multiple preachers may be on staff to preach some of the services. Deacons are ministers of people. The church “brand” is recognizable in the community. Senior staff meet separately, and then information is disseminated through other communications to associate staff.
- The Multi Campus Church– In this model, the church goes from multiple services in one location to multiple services in multiple locations. This is not limited to mega churches, as multi campus meetings can occur in churches sizes from the expanding church model to the mega church model. The “branding” of the church identity has now expanded to be recognizable enough to impact new locations.
Again, I know that there are stereotype here as well as generalizations, but there is a sense that much of this occurs. We can debate the individual thoughts here, but that’s missing my point. After all, these types of churches all have a heart to grow, and all of these churches have organizational structures. So what is the missing factor here?
What we are missing here is the message of the changed life in Christ. Personally, I think that churches have been overly focused on structure, systems, and resources and not enough on transforming people. Sorry to say, but mega-church pastors and their methods sell books, but rarely are they models for others to follow. In our quest to find the magic formula to grow our grandiose kingdoms, we miss the most important part of the reason for the church in the first place. Converts come to Christ but do not know what is next. Churches exchange sheep from one church to the next. Pastors abandon one ministry for the greener pasture of another. In the meantime, while on this earth, we lose our battle with Satan and his influence on the next generation.
To our shame, our churches are baptizing less, tithing less, discipling less, disciplining less, and sharing less now than fifty years ago. Something needs to change. A discipling church is one that focuses on reaching and teaching. There are systems, yes, but more importantly, there is a patient focus on changing the culture of the church to the heart of the gospel- that all people might come, grow, serve, and share Christ. It is a mindset and a heart felt change, followed with action. It begins with a transformation minded pastor and expands to the church. And, yes, it will take time.
Let me mention this- building a life-transforming ministry is counter cultural, both inside and outside of the church. It will not produce quick, immediate, results recognizable by associational and state convention baptismal numbers. It will not spur the admiration of others in order to stroke your ego, accompanied with calls for speaking engagements and book deals. It will not bring about offers for denominational positions and teams. It will instead, bring about changed lives, and as some persevere to the end, it will result in praise and glory to God.
Now that I have stated my case, I will keep posting on how this can happen. Stay tuned as I lay out a plan for a biblical, transforming church ministry- one that emphasizes the gospel message to bring people to Christ and transform them to fruit bearing disciples of Christ.
Until next time,