Organization and the Church Family

I remember being newly married and getting back from our honeymoon. Although we had little cash we had lots of freedom. Going places and doing things didn’t require a lot of organization. You could jump in the car on a moment’s notice without an awful lot of planning.

Then come the children. Children bring a whole new order of complexity and organization. All of a sudden the car is filled with things you didn’t know existed, especially on longer trips. Genies and pack n’ plays…diaper caddies and changing mats…then there are the car seats! When our children were a few years older (4 and 6) we made trips from LAX to see family. We had to get from long term parking Lot C to the terminal and through check in and security all while holding onto our two boys with their car seats (you have to have that when you land with a rental car) and three suit cases. The boys had on their backpacks on top of all of that. That was stressful! You didn’t want to forget anything and you had to make sure everyone and everything got from point A to point B. What a sigh of relieve when everyone made it on the plane!

Churches are a lot like that. Larger churches require more organization. If you don’t have some level of organization to match the complexity of your size you can feel like you are drowning. This is one of the reasons some churches plataue is because they only know how to operate as a smaller church and don’t know how to identify, navigate and implement needed adjustments of a larger congregation. That means the car seat is forgotten or Kevin gets left at the gate only to spend Christmas in New York while the rest of the family is in Florida.

If you are a larger church operating with a smaller church you will most likely eventually grow (read that as shrink) to the size you operate as. One example of this is what do you do about accounting for who is attending? In a smaller church you don’t need to think twice about that because you can look around and know. In a larger church (100 plus) you can’t just look around and know because there are too many people to keep up with. This means someone needs to be tasked with some management but even more importantly the role of the shepherd must adjust to accommodate a larger church body. This often means there is a need to add elders, staff or deacons/ministry leaders in order to adjust to the growing complexity of all the items that used to just happen (or not) now need intentionality to make sure someone is on top of it.

There are a few resources on how to deal with changing size dynamics in a congregation. Here are a few to consider:

Size Transitions in Congregations edited by Beth Ann Gaede
Leadership for a Changing Church by Robert Dale
To Dream Again by Robert Dale
Prepare Your Church for the Future By Carl George

3 Responses to Organization and the Church Family

  1. Mark says:

    Adding more elders will not help if none have expertise. Adding more staff will not help if the elders don’t let them function. However, many churches still use the increasing elders method to respond to growth. Even after all the weeks of sermons (that are wasted opportunities to preach Jesus) and written objections (which aren’t read), the current elders will likely pick some more men who think like they do. After all, the current elders will be diluting the power of their own votes. This will result in a growing but ultimately shrinking church and a frustrated leadership.

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