Growing Beyond 200

Carey NieuwhofMost congregations are relatively small.  While small is not bad, small and plateaued or small and declining are.  In reality, churches of any size are either growing or declining.  Healthy congregations should be growing congregations.

Carey Nieuwhof, lead pastor of Connexus Community Church, recently wrote about many of the reasons why churches can grow to a certain size, but not beyond such. In a great deal of the literature on the topic of church size, the number 200 is deemed significant.  Generally, a solo pastor can reasonably manage in the role of primary caregiver until a congregation passes the 200 mark.  Nieuwhof explains:

When the pastor has to visit every sick person, do every wedding, funeral and make regular house calls, he or she becomes incapable of doing other things. That model just doesn’t scale. If you’re good at it, you’ll grow the church to 200 people and then disappoint people when you can’t get to every event any more. Or you’ll just burn out. It creates false expectations and so many people get hurt in the process.

So What?

I have spent most of my ministry in much larger congregations.  The reality, however, is that most congregations create an organizational culture that assumes a specific congregational size.  When the size changes either through growth or decline, often the types of change suggested are technical rather than adaptive.  One of the key reasons for this is the lack of awareness about organizational dynamics relating to church size.

Have you ever been a part of a congregation that never passed the 200 mark in worship attendance?  Did they ever get close? If so, what do you think kept them from pushing beyond 200?

Are the expectations for your congregation’s pastor (or pastors) appropriate given the current size of your congregation?

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