SMALL CHURCHES & 2 Reasons Growing Churches May Stall (e.g. lack of tactical leaders)

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: There are more factors than just these two keeping churches under 200 attendees. A primary factor not mentioned in this article is the Dunbar number. But this article does point out something that I have said in my previous books: that pastors often go into the ministry because they want to be a “shepherd,” not an “administrator/manager.” And to grow above 200 you have to be an administrator/manager. See this article regarding how one small, but growing church pastor identified this.  Then check out this questionnaire to see you personal mixture of strategic, tactical and operational leadership skills.

Reasons Growing Churches May Stall

by Karl Vaters, Facts & Trends, LifeWay, 5/12/16.

Our church grew and grew and we hit about 150 to 160, while we were in a tiny little building. So we moved into a local school, and within about a year we grew to almost 400. Then we started dropping like a rock…

What happened here? I made a couple of strategic errors.

1. Workers can’t be welcomers.

We were setting up and tearing down everything every week, and the regulars who were hauling chairs would normally have been the social glue to greet the new people. So we weren’t able to retain our visitors.

2. Being a pastor is different than being an administrator.

But the primary thing was this: I made the switch from pastor to administrator. I made that switch willingly, but I was miserable.

The numbers hid the misery from me—how can a pastor be miserable when his church has almost doubled in a year? By spending 95 percent of my ministry doing things I hate.

Below 200, a church can function under one pastor with a handful of volunteers. Over 200, it cannot be done by a single pastor anymore, and the lead pastor has to take on an entirely different role.

I think most pastors are like me. Very few go into ministry thinking, I want to spend my time working with city hall, fundraising, sorting out finances and dealing with staff conflicts.

They enter ministry because they want to feed the sheep. But you’ve got to pastor with a different set of skills above 200…

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OPERATIONAL LEADERSHIP & A Quiz to Help Discover if You Are a Shepherd (a leadership exercise)

by Bob Whitesel, D.Min., Ph.D., 12/15/15.

Are you a shepherd or a visionary (or a little of both)? 

Here is a posting explaining the difference: STO LEADERSHIP & An Overview: Are you a shepherd or a visionary (or a little of both)?

But what if you are primarily an operational-style of leader, the type we classify as “shepherd?”  Will you ever lead a large, growing ministry?

Yes you may, for I have seen many “shepherd leaders” who build leadership teams that lead large flocks. Read the excerpt from my book here to find out the difference (not for public distribution, so if you enjoy the chapter please support the publisher and author by purchasing a copy): BOOK ©Whitesel EXCERPT – CHANGE REACTION Chpt. 2 STO Leaders.

A Questionnaire to Discover If You are Primarily a Shepherd Leader

If you feel you are an “operational leader” more than a “strategic leader,” that is fine.

As I said above, I’ve seen many leaders of large ministries that are primarily operational leaders. This is because they build together a great team to lead the organization.

So how do you know if you are an operational (shepherd) leader?  How do you tell?

A good place to start is Randall Neighbour’s self-exam called the “Pastor’s Relational Survey.”  It came from the Appendix of his book, The Naked Truth About Small Group Ministry.

You can complete Neighbour’s the “Pastor’s Relational Survey” self-exam in about 10 minutes here: “Pastor’s Relational Survey.”Take this short questionnaire and it may help you focus on your unique leadership gifts.

PASTOR & Is the term pastor (shepherd) nothing more than so much biblical Styrofoam? Sorry, it’s not .

by John Fry, 2/6/15.

You would think that with all the second-guessing about and dismissal of who a pastor is and what a pastor does that the five-fold gifting mentioned in Ephesians 4:11 is also mentioned from cover to cover in the Bible. Sorry, it’s not. It’s listed one time. And you would think that with all the spiritual wizardry and exegetical technology that spins out of the so-called five-fold gifting that the term “pastor” is a throw-away term, not worthy of the trendy entrepreneurial discussions about how best to lead the church. But is the term pastor (shepherd) nothing more than so much biblical Styrofoam? Sorry, it’s not.

In Genesis 48:15 Jacob did not say that the God of his fathers had been an apostle to him, or an evangelist, or a prophet, or a teacher. No. He said ‘pastor’ (shepherd, see Genesis 49:24). What qualified David as a good king was his pastoral training, i.e., he was a shepherd (Psalm 78:70-72). God was not angry with Israel’s leaders (Ezekiel 34) because they were inadequate apostles, evangelists, prophets or teachers. “The word of the LORD came to me: ‘Son of man, prophesy and say to them: ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Woe to the shepherds of Israel who only take care of themselves.’” What was God’s remedy? Did he raise up a great Apostle? Did he promise a great Prophet or a sterling Evangelist or fascinating Teacher? “I will place over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he will tend them; he will tend them and be their shepherd (pastor)” (Ezekiel 34:23).

Jesus didn’t say, “I am the good Apostle or Evangelist or Teacher or Prophet.” Jesus said, “I am the good Pastor” (John 10:11, 14). The writer of Hebrews calls Jesus the Great Pastor, and Peter hails Jesus as the Chief Pastor. Do we see a trend here in the Bible? Did not Paul exhort church leaders in Ephesus to “be pastors” of God’s flock (Acts 20:28). And what’s up with Peter who himself was an apostle? At least, he could have picked up on the five-fold gifting and commanded the church leaders to be apostles (those keen entrepreneurs) or be evangelists or prophets or teachers. But no. Peter, himself an apostle, exhorts them to be pastors (1 Peter 5:2). When Jesus the Chief Apostle returns we leaders will get our reward from him. Uh, no. Jesus is not the Chief Apostle; he is the Chief Shepherd.

I have only referenced a few texts that put the primacy of church leadership squarely on the shoulders of pastors. I am so tired of good women and men who are persevering in the demanding calling of pastor being demoralized by the latest wizards of the new ecclesiology. Pastors have a biblically pronounced center place in local church life. They don’t need to be badgered by silly potshots like, “Well, who exalted you, pastor, above the other four gifts?” That kind of atrocious question tips the hand of the one asking. Maybe, just maybe, it could be Jesus…

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