7 Changes Driven By Church Growth

Last monday I posted on 8 Reasons Most Churches Are Below 200. It drew lots of interest and comments from all around the world. One of the main reasons for posting was to raise the leadership awareness that as Churches grow our leadership style changes and grows too.

Tim Keller says, “Every church has a culture that goes with its size and which must be accepted.”

At different stages of growth and development within a Church the culture shifts and that is often seen in the changes that happen within the way the church is led. The acceptance of these shifts so often determines whether a church can successfully transition to another size.  So… today I thought I might mention 7 of those changes:

1. You move from managing workers, to leading managers, to leading leaders:

As a church grows it requires leaders to represent and lead various constituencies within the church. Leaders begin to be empowered by the church’s board/senior leaders to make decisions and plans for their sphere. Leaders are now not chosen because of their length of involvement or personality but on the basis of skill and giftedness too.

2. Focus shifts from a survival-in-the-present mode to a success-in-the-future mode.

Vision begins to drive the agenda more intentionally and powerfully. Whereas in the past the leadership team was consistently focussed upon the day to day running of the Church it is now focussed on creating a healthy environment that can deliver the future vision. Other leaders are required to pick up the day to day essentials.

3. Expectations move from informal to formal:

Churches often begin relatively unstructured but for a wide variety of reasons this changes as Churches grow. Some of the changes may include the establishing of boards, changing the Church’s legal status, modifying the leadership structure etc.. Good structure is both safeguarding and releasing. Structure creates culture…

4. You move from making decisions by general consensus to a handful of people making decisions.

This point is linked with 3 above and in my observations has been one of the most difficult changes for people to grasp. Growth requires a faster pace. However we have to have safeguards included and so getting this right becomes very important. Failure to do so can lead to a lot of frustration.

Empowerment is the key issue here. The staff team has to be empowered, key volunteers have to be empowered. One of my observations is that some leaders think they are empowering people by delegating tasks but that is just work distribution. True empowerment happens when responsibility is given to those being empowered.

5. People’s roles move from general responsibility to specialised responsibility.

As a Church begins and at a certain size people take on several areas of responsibility and often function as generalists. If the Pareto Principle is right then at this stage the 20% is just a few people and the few people end up working across several areas of Church life. As the Church grows individuals begin to specialise in areas where their gifts lie and the Church begins to discover the possibility and benefit of people serving and focusing on their strengths.

6. The senior leaders shift their focus from being primarily caregivers to making sure people are being cared for by raising up leaders.

Leadership development becomes the most important task of Senior Leaders and training people in how to care for one another is essential. This does not mean that the Senior Leader(s) care less for the people but that they realise they will need an effective and efficient team to be able to care well for everyone as the Church grows.

Leaders and leadership are mission critical and any senior leader knows that their number one task is to ensure there is no lack of resources in this area.

7. The senior leader shifts from working in the organisation to working on the organisation.

The Senior Leaders role becomes increasingly focussed as the Church grows. They realised they cannot do everything or even everything that they used to do but that their priorities lie in ensuring the Church has a clear mission, vision and strategy. Their focus becomes about ensuring the progress is in line with the organisations values and that the culture being established is one that is desired.

The leader becomes preoccupied with getting the right people in the right places.

For further reading I thoroughly recommend this article by Tim Keller on Leadership And Church Size Dynamics


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