Today’s post comes to us from Carey Nieuwhof, founding pastor of Connexus Church and author of several best-selling books, including his latest #1 best-selling work, Lasting Impact: 7 Powerful Conversations That Will Help Your Church Grow. Carey also hosts the top-rated Carey Nieuwhof Leadership Podcast where he interviews some of today’s best leaders.
Of all the mysteries that shouldn’t be mysteries, why most churches remain small is perhaps the greatest.
I’m sure there are a few leaders who want to keep their churches small, or who don’t care about growth.
But most small church leaders and pastors I meet actually want to reach more people. They want to see their mission fully realized. They hope and pray for the day when they can reach as many people as possible in their community.
But that’s simply not reality.
The Barna group reports the average Protestant church size in America as 89 adults. 60% of protestant churches have less than 100 adults in attendance. Only 2% have over 1000 adults attending.
As a result, the dreams of pastors of most small and even mid-sized churches go unrealized. Why?
I outlined 8 reasons most churches never break the 200 attendance mark in a previous post, but today I want to drill down deeper on one that kills almost every church and pastor: pastoral care.
When the pastor has to visit every sick person, do every wedding and funeral and make regular house calls, attend every meeting, and lead every bible study or group, he or she becomes incapable of doing almost anything else.
Message preparation falls to the side, and providing organizational leadership for the future is almost out of the question.
The pastoral care model of church leadership simply doesn’t scale.
Eventually the pastor burns out or leaves and the church shrinks back to a smaller number. If a new pastor arrives who also happens to be good at pastoral care, the pattern simply repeats itself: growth, frustration, burnout, exit.
It’s ironic. They very thing you’re great at (pastoral care) eventually causes your exit when you can no longer keep up.
I’m convinced that if we changed how we do pastoral care, we’d reach more people. And in the process, we’d care for people much better than we do now.
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