13 years ago I was sitting in Fellowship Church at the C3 conference when I heard Ed Young say, “Pastor your church like it is twice the size it currently is.” His point was you have to get ahead in leadership and if you structure and pastor like a church of 500 attendees even though you are a church of 250 you will create the “space” for your church to grow. I understand what he was trying to say, many churches struggle to get past the small family church mindset, and it hinders the possibility of their church, but sitting there 13 years ago I completely misinterpreted what Ed Young was saying, and it affected my ministry for ten years.
Since that conference, I have overcomplicated the process of leadership so many times, all in an attempt to lead and structure myself like a church bigger than my current reality. It’s not Ed Young’s fault, I just misunderstood, and I see so many of my friends doing the same thing in an attempt to structure for growth.
I made the mistake of thinking, “Well this is how a church of 500 or 1000 would do it…” and in the process skipped right past the easiest solution available. It will never be easier to disciple and get people involved than when you’re church is small. In my attempt to “act” big I missed so many opportunities to invest personally in the 1 on 1 relationships that give a church momentum and propel growth. I would not make a hospital visit because pastors of large churches need to build care teams to handle those things. I would create an elaborate sign-up processes and direct people to websites when a white piece of paper and a pen would have done the job. I kept trying to structure myself to handle growth; the problem was systems don’t create growth – systems manage growth. It’s relationships, buy in, and investment that create growth.
[bctt tweet=”It will never be easier to disciple and get people involved than when you’re church is small.” username=”@excellentpastot”]
What’s the point of a better system if people aren’t showing up? I’m guilty of being frustrated because more people didn’t engage with my system, when if I would have closed my computer or stopped reading my leadership book I could have engaged them 1 on 1. I guarantee you, if all you did this week was talk on the phone, text, and go to lunch with the people in your church; more people would buy into your vision, and more people would show up this Sunday than last. You won’t be able to do it forever, but you can do it now, so do it! Like Jesus said about the Sabbath, the system was created for the man, not the other way around.
Don’t create a system for something a conversation can accomplish. If you want to launch small groups with 4-6 groups you don’t need a three-tiered system you, need six lunch/coffee meetings to ask a potential leader to lead and six text messages each week checking in on your leaders. If you need more volunteers, you don’t need a 4-week spiritual gifting track, that’s what churches who have outgrown the ability of the pastoral staff to personally disciple people do. If you are a youth pastor with less than 15-20 students, you should be the most effective/influential youth pastor in the country because there are no systems restricting face to face time with all of your students.
The most effective system I have is face to face interaction and until it is no longer feasible to use that system I need to use it. Every layer added to a system is more complicated, necessary but complicated.
I’m not saying we don’t need organization, that’s different, of course, we do. I’m saying one day when your church grows you will need a 3 step process, today you just need a phone call or a meeting over coffee. Don’t overcomplicate it. Don’t be the Jetsons, be the Flintsones.