A healthy church doesn’t neglect its members while reaching the community. It equips its members to reach the community.
When we do that, no one gets neglected. And it leads to our fifth and final point.
5. Hiring Staff Instead Of Making Disciples
If the church I pastor had grown numerically fast, I would have hired more full-time professional clergy to oversee the ministry departments.
Because our growth has always been three steps forward, two steps back (sometimes five), we’ve had to recruit, train and release our church members into ministry.
It’s one of the many reasons I’m now grateful that my ideas about how to grow Jesus’ church didn’t work. It’s nudged us to do what we should have been doing all along.
Certainly, not every large church has hired staff instead of equipping disciples. Most have had a balanced approach to both. But when you have the budget, buildings and people, it’s tempting to rely more heavily on paid staff to do the work of ministry.
In fact, in the 1990s and 2000s, it was common to hear church growth proponents tell pastors that one great way prepare your church for numerical increase was to hire staff ahead of the growth. The theory being that the staff member would pay for their salary by attracting more people to the church.
Hiring ahead of (nonexistent) growth hurt more churches than it helped. Thankfully, no one is promoting that idea any more.
What I’m Not Saying About Big Churches
Big churches are not the only ones that are susceptible to making these mistakes. Just as small churches are not the only ones that are susceptible to making the mistakes in my previous post.
But it’s hard to find a lot of small churches that
- let too many traditions go
- judge their success only by numerical increase
- have too much outward focus
- hire staff instead of making disciples
So, the larger the church, the more susceptible you may be to these pitfalls. If your big church has avoided these, that’s great!
Every church, of every size, has a role to play in the body of Christ. But, just like a hand will never have glaucoma and an eye will never get carpel tunnel syndrome, every size of church comes with unique challenges, too.
If we’re aware of them, we can correct for them. And the entire body will be better off for it.
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