ATTENDANCE & A List of Principles That Break the 1,000 & 1,500 Barriers #ElmerTowns #GaryMcIntosh

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: “I often ask student-researchers in my Missional Church MISS 600 course to research and compile a list of strategies and tactics to break through different church size barriers.  Below is a list complied by students in churches facing 1,000 and 1,500 size barriers (with their commentary on their perception of the relevance of each strategies/tactics).”

Kenny G. said:

Towns (1998) has suggested 8 issues that churches around 1,000 begin to deal with.

1.     Uncharted Waters – in this section he notes that it is at this point that pastors and boards typically begin to enter areas of leadership that they do not understand and they have trouble spotting the troublesome issues (Towns, Wagner, & Rainer, 1998, Chapter 7, para. 6).j

2.     Growth itself as a barrier – here he notes that the increased number of people leads to more problems because there are more people with more problems which adds layers of complexity (Towns, Wagner, & Rainer, 1998, Chapter 7, para8).

3.     Lack of cohesion in critical mass – At this level, Towns, Wagner, and Rainer (1998) notes that the things that hold the group together begin to become less noticeable and thus, there is a lack of cohesion (Chapter 7, para. 9).

4.     Platform for growth without personal bonding – the church grows because of its platform and not because of personal relationships. This leads to a bit of the revolving door syndrome which keeps new people coming in but not staying (Towns, Wagner, & Rainer 1998, Chapter 7, para. 10).

5.     Space limitation – this one sort of speaks for itself; the church runs out of room for new people (Towns, Wagner, & Rainer, 1998, Chapter 7, para. 13). Park Chapel is dealing with this issue right now.

6.     Change in leadership style – at this level the leadership must shift to a more executive style (Towns, Wagner, & Rainer, 1998, Chapter 7, para. 20).

7.     Limited pastoral leadership – the senior/lead/head pastor must shift his/her focus from ministry directly to the congregation to equipping/training those who will serve the ministries (Towns, Wagner, & Rainer, 1998, Chapter 7, para. 23).

8.     Projection of needs onto the congregation – pastors must look to the diversity of needs in the growing congregation instead of the one or two things that got them to this point (Towns, Wagner, & Rainer, 1998, Chapter 7, para. 29).

Gary McIntosh (2009) offers things that a church must do to get beyond the 1,500 mark.

1.     Adjusting roles of board and staff – the board (in PC’s case, elders) must step out of everyday decision-making and let that be handled by the staff. The board functions as the policy forming, overall budgeting, values, and long-range planning issues (McIntosh, 2009, p. 165)

2.     Adjust staff organization – the senior pastor must change how he/she functions either to more executive-type leadership or to a team of leaders (McIntosh, 2009, p. 166).

3.     Team Building – staff members must shift from being “practitioners” to “team-builders” because the numbers necessitate more hands on ministry than they themselves can provide (McIntosh, 2009, p. 166).

4.     Be a church of small groups – the church must shift from having small groups to be a church of small groups (McIntosh, 2009, p. 167). This allows the congregants to continue to experience the cohesion that is necessary for them to stick around and develop more intimate relationships.

5.     Think beyond the local church – must have a globally minded board (and ministers) because the church’s impact with stretch beyond their local context (McIntosh, 2009, p. 167).

As can be seen, many of these suggestions in McIntosh address the issues raised by Towns, Wagner, and Rainer. This is the best I could come up with – and I apologize for potentially causing my fellow classmates more work.

McIntosh, G. L. (2009). Taking your church to the next level: What go you here won’t get you there [Google Books version]. Retrieved from books.google.com

Towns, E., Wagner, C. P., & T. S. (1998). The everychurch guide to growth: How any plateaued church can grow [Lifeway Reader version]. Retrieved from reader.lifeway.com