Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Shaping of the Church: Steeple Envy

A difficult thing in leading churches or ministries is dealing with the internal desire for large numbers of people in the gatherings. Some pastors say that we should be concerned with numbers because Jesus tells us to go and make disciples and therefore if we are doing our job, more people will come. Other pastors flat out reject the measure of numbers by saying they want quality, not quantity. No matter what the personal conviction, it is difficult to allow God to have his way and not allow numbers to affect you.

The thing that we must fight against is comparing one gathering's size to another. Don Golden uses the phrase, "How big is your steeple" when he or anyone on his staff feels the need to brag about the numbers of attendees or the need to ask how many are attending somewhere else. I think this is very telling in that it shows that these questions are about pride and about power. Somehow we think that churches with "bigger steeples" are better or more effective when it just might be that God made them to have big steeples. It might also be as one pastor of a large church says, "the skill of the pastors directly affects the size of the church". I agree with this on a purely human level but do we really just think that only churches with large numbers of people have skilled pastors or that a large size really means it is a clearer picture of the Church that Jesus dreams about?

I know that it is easy for me to say all of this at this point because we are a part of a new church and therefore have a small number of people attending. At our new church we want to be effective in reaching people and giving people a place to connect, but we don't want the steeple size to define us. So how do you think churches can effectively deal with this issue of steeple envy?.... and no viagra jokes!


Kevin said...

There was a group of people that wanted to build the largest steeple they could and they got spread around the world. So I'm gonna go with the idea that maybe that isn't so important.

I'm not a big numbers guy, but is seems that in my ministry there is no way around it. Churches might even admit that its not about numbers...but it usually always comes down to numbers in my experience.

One example of this is with YFC. Even though this is not a church - it makes for a good example. I love YFC and have worked for YFC...however, they ask for ministry reports that are centered around one major item....how many kids did you have in club.

Really this ministry report should ask about stories and discipleship and the fruit that is being produced by the ministry.

When my church was recently deciding whether or not to make my position larger with a raise and more hours it was based around the number of students....my answer was I can get 60 people in here in a month if you want, thats easy (pizza and ice cream) but there would be no discipleship time.

As for comparing...the second we do that we take the focus off of God and focus it on someone or something. We have to remember that we cannot build a 'successful' ministry without God. The second we start feeling like we are not doing our best and start playing the comparison job we have to remind ourselves that we aren't good enough and we must focus on the cross more than whats around us.

Again easy to talk about....hard to do. My hope is that the more people that attend your church the more leaders you will get who will step up and help Shepard the people.

Kevin said...

apparently there is a comment limit.......

Also I would try to remember that the church isn't about one pastor running everything but rather a group of people that are the church building one another up. If this is happen then you can throw away the thought of steeple envy.

How is your church going anyways?

How many regular attenders do you have??? ....(just kidding, i hate that question with any ministry).