The Middle-sized Church: Problems amd Prescriptions

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Categories: Spiritual/Religion
Publisher: United Methodist Publishing House | Date published: 03/21/2002


Middle-sized churches (100-200 worshipers) have always been unwieldy and difficult to grapple with. They are not close-knit families, like small churches. They are not staff-centered and as highly structured as large churches.

The middle-sized church is usually too small for the leaders to agree the congregation needs a full-scale systematic new member enlistment effort, but too large for enough new members to come in on their own initiative to offset the inevitable attrition.

Typically the middle-sized congregation is too large to be shock-free from a change of ministers and/or a long vacancy in the pulpit, but too small to expect the typical pastorate to be at least ten years in length or to bring in an intentional interim pastor on a full-time basis during the vacancy period.

While this will vary greatly according to denominational polity, and especially by race, the typical middle-sized congregation is too small for the lay leaders to concede that "the minister is in charge around here," but too large for lay volunteers to be able to allocate the necessary time every week for it to be lay-controlled (as is the pattern in most small churches).

A substantial majority of all middle-sized congregations are located in communities in which at least one-third of the residents do not have any active church affiliation. The typical middle-sized church is large enough to offer a ministry to meet the needs of many of the unchurched, but most of the members are convinced that their congregation is too small to have sufficient resources to launch a major effort to reach the unchurched.

Also Available from Lyle E. Schaller

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44 Ways to Expand the Financial Base of Your Church