Carey Niewhof says if a church overcomes these tensions they’re closer to progress:
1. The desire to keep the church one big family
This pressure is huge.
Many people believe that the church functions best as one big family.
The reality is even when our church was 40 people, those 40 people didn’t know each other—really. Some were left out, others weren’t.
Even at 100 or 300, enough people will still believe they know ‘everyone’. But they don’t.
When people told me they knew everyone I would challenge people (nicely) and say “Really, you know everyone? Because as much as I wish I did, I don’t.” They would then admit they didn’t know everyone. They just knew the people they knew and liked and often felt that growing the church would threaten that.
The truth is, at 100-300, many people are unknown. And even if ‘we all wear name-tags,” many of the people in your church don’t really have anyone to talk to about what matters. The one big family idea is, in almost every case, a myth.
Once you get beyond a dozen people, start organizing in groups. Everyone will have a home. Everyone who wants to be known and have meaningful relationships will have them. And a healthy groups model is scalable to hundred, thousands and even beyond that.
2. The people who hold positions don’t always hold the power
In many small churches, your board may be your board, but often there are people—and even families—whose opinion carries tremendous weight.
If one of those people sits on the board, they end up with a de facto veto because no one wants to make a move without their buy in. If they are not on the board, decisions the board makes or a leader makes can get ‘undone’ if the person or family disapproves.
This misuse of power is unhealthy and needs to be stopped.