Scalability: Principles for Church Growth based on Tim Keller’s “Leadership and Church Size Dynamics”


I see a lot of friends in the room, and it looks like some new friends, as well. So, let me quickly just introduce myself, and a little bit of background of why I even get a chance to speak up here. My name is Tim Beltz. Spent 25 years in the Coast Guard, retired to get into business, and God had other plans. 

I got into non-profit management from leading a homeless non-profit agency in Seattle. I had a chance to work with the second largest non-profit in the state of Washington. Really large Christian ministry. We started going to Mars Hill Church, met Mark Driscoll and Jamie Munson. After going through an eldership process for over a year, I was invited to come on staff. 

I served as the executive pastor at Mars Hill Church from 2007 to 2010. I was demoted to Pastor of Operations, was fired and then ... Thankfully. What a huge ... That was the best firing ever. 

Then I actually came back on staff at one of the campuses, and then God called me to come to Sojourn Community Church in Louisville, KY. We didn't know where Louisville was. I was invited to come for three years. So, in 2016 my wife and I had a chance to step down, retire from staff at Sojourn Community Church. 

We had a house built for us down in southwest Florida. We went there, not to retire, but to restart consulting with churches. A passion that I have. As we get started, that background becomes important because of the mistakes and lessons learned, and the opportunities that I've had to work with hundreds of churches around the country. 

In 2016, we move from Louisville to Punta Gorda, Florida. Southwest side of Florida, about 90 miles south of Tampa, about 30 miles north of Fort Myers. Having spent 25 years in the Coast Guard, I knew all about hurricanes. I spent a lot of time in Search and Rescue, and I did extensive study as to the areas that were least prone in Florida for a hurricane. 

So, the first year we were alright. This year, it's been a pretty busy season. So all of the study didn't mean much, when it was late August, early September and there was this tropical invest. A butterfly stretched it wings over the Sahara, and suddenly we have these tropical weather systems developing, and the beginning of hurricane Irma began.

How many of you live ... I'm lookin' at Jeremiah. I know that you guys are living there. But how many of you live in an area that's been impacted by a tropical disturbance of some sort? 

A couple of you. 

So, when I refer to a guy named Jim Cantore of the Weather Channel, I have learned ... If you haven't watched ... If you live in a region that you don't have to pay attention to the weather, significant weather, then you may not know who I'm talking about. Jim Cantore is one of the meteorologists who loves the big events. In fact, the bigger, worse, epic storms there are, the more excited and animated he gets. I mean, he loves epic storms. 

I've learned to hate ... Literally, you're not supposed to hate people, but I hate to see him because that means that there's tragedy on it's way. Somebody is gonna get hammered very quickly. So unfortunately, when Jim shows up in your area, it's not a good day. It really is not a good day, because he's live from your area. 

So, Irma ... And you'll find out why I'm talking about a hurricane in just a moment. But, Irma transitioned from this invest, to a tropical depression, to a storm. And then, very quickly, from a Category 1, to 2, to 3, and 4. As Jim Cantore would say, "Well, it's not just because it's Cat. 4. It's the biggest, widest storm ever." And he takes hurricane Andrew, and he shows this little circle in the midst of this big, huge hurricane Irma. It's going through the tropics, through the Caribbean, and just wiping out islands left and right. It's just headed right for us.

So, early morning on September 9th, Irma had come and landed ashore in the Florida Keys. A day later, it's working it's way up, just south of us, to Marco Island. It's marching straight up to Naples, Estero, and then Fort Myers. It's just devastating, and they're talking about storm surges of up to 15 feet. Having been in the Coast Guard, I knew that with our elevation of 11 and a half feet, we where in trouble. We would be swimming, and didn't want to do that. We left. We went to Mobile. 

Fortunately ... Providentially for us, just as it was heading north, hitting Fort Myers with 135 mile an hour winds, it jogged east about 60 miles. What we got hit with were Cat. 2, 85 mile an hour winds. So, the difference of damage between 135 and 85 is profound. Our electricity didn't even go off, is what our neighbors reported. It was such a minor event, we just lost a few trees. 

I'm mentioning about the hurricane because I've been doing a lot of thinking, and writing on Tim Keller's awesome article, brilliant article, of 11 years ago on scalability. Of the impact of size on church leadership. So, as I'm writing, or experiencing the difference between a hurricane watch, a hurricane warning, and in the cone. Oh man. I can see Jim Cantore. "You're in the cone." It's like, "Wow." The preparations that you have to make are so different with each place. The preparations that a wise and prudent person would do.

As we're experiencing that, and I'm trying to write on Keller's scalability, I'm thinking there's a lot of similarities between what comes to a church as a result of growth. It's like a hurricane that's coming. 

The National Weather Service has all kinds of terms, and has defined terms, and we've gotten more educated. As I think about growth and it's attendant complexities, I started thinking about, "I've been dealing with those issues for a few decades now." Probably another two decades on impact of growth and complexity in organizations. It seemed to me that, as I could explain this, is that I'm listening to the definitions, that strong winds and high surge are coming our direction. What are we going to do about it?

As I spend time working with churches, I find that they've got the hurricane watch, they've got the hurricane warning, and they're in the cone. Yet, they seem somehow unable to deal with the effects. The complexity shows up, and it manifests itself in so many different ways. But what it does, is that it creates an incredible amount of burnout. 

I think that the idea of bring able to do some storm preps, especially when you watch neighbors deal with these different threats in a different way. Some just seem to just ignore it. Others, they're really well out in advance of the preparation, and they're able to do it. But you see a lot of people that are immobilized. So, it caused me to think about, "Why is it that some people can't deal with the preparations?" 

I happen to be gifted with a spiritual gift of administration. It suddenly appeared to me that the gift of administration is a pretty broad term. Because with the gift of administration, it's like, "How do you understand how do you get ready for something?" 

Well, if you have the gift of administration, you go, "Wow. There's a lot of things that go with this." Things like organizing, coordinating, scheduling, prioritizing. There's a ton of things that have to be done. You can sort of put them in an order, in a sequence, and you just get busy and do it.

But, if you have the gift of administration, it becomes a pretty simple matter. If you don't have the gift of administration, it's like, "Wow. What do you do if you're a church, you're a Lead Pastor, and you don't have that particular gift? What do you do to get ready and deal with the complexities that are coming as a result of size?"

Recently, I heard a sermon ... Every once in a while an Executive Pastor will get a chance to speak, and those brave Lead Pastors that allow that to happen, but ... It was an incredible sermon. He coined some language. He said, "The use of the gift of administration is for the sake and good of the church. It's a supporting function." 

He really captured the main idea I want to get through today in my presentation, in that it's not ... I just don't really want to talk about the effects. The effects of the hurricane, the complexity that's coming. 

Keller has done an incredible job, like the National Weather Service, of explaining what's happening in your church. But, with the gift of administration, it's to be able to say, "Well, if there were four different buckets that you could say ... What's the impact? What are these four buckets that you can look at, and get ready for?" That actually gives you language.

I don't know about you, but if I'm ill and I don't know what's wrong with me, it's incredibly helpful when I go to the doctor if they can diagnose what it is that I'm dealing with. There's nothing worse than the uncertainty. This like, "Man. I feel terrible." 

Take that to the workplace of the church. We know that we're being burned out. We're being stressed. We're busy. There's more work than we can possibly do. You can look around. People are getting stressed. They want to leave. I want to leave. Thank God for calling, because you just can't check out because you want to. But, you're tired. You're worn out, and you seem to be losing ground. The whole idea is, when I go to the doctor and I find out what it is, then I can do something about it.

My hope today, the big idea, is to be able to help correlate what's happening as ... Maybe in your church, what's happening as a result of growth, and the complexities that come with it. More specifically, as you cross one size of a church. I'll talk just in a moment about the church sizes that Keller has brilliantly defined. As you cross the threshold from one size of church to another, there's a whole host of attendant complexities and issues that have to be address, that hopefully I can categorize for you in a couple of buckets, and make you see that way. 

So, suddenly you have a diagnoses. I know what's wrong. I know what we can address. This, "How do you deal with the unknown?" We don't very well. We have anxiety and angst. The big idea is, maybe this gives you a way of thinking about what it is that we need to do as a leadership team to address the complexities that arise from growth.

By the way, I see growth as just an incredible blessing of the Lord. I pray that there isn't a Lead Pastor here that says, "Boy. I wanna grow. I just really want to grow." No, you really want to be healthy in every respect. What's a byproduct of being healthy? Growth. If you're healthy, your leadership team's healthy, your congregation, your members are healthy, then you can grow. 

Growth even happens sometimes when you're unhealthy. I think of Mars Hill Church. For years, we were really, very unhealthy, and yet incredible growth happened because of the Lord's favor. And so the growth, it just kicked our fannies. 

A couple ... You have in the notes a little ... I'm looking at the clock and time isn't our friend. You have some information on the notes. Let me just make a point. 

Scripturally, I think there is an incredible example about church growth. You look in Acts 2, and people were very content. They were pleased with the leadership. 

What happened? There were, daily, people being added to the church. This isn't just growth, this is exponential growth. Suddenly ... I don't know. I'm not a biblical scholar. I don't know how much time occurred between the situation where people were really pleased with the elders, the leadership, of the church in Jerusalem, between Acts 2 and Acts 6, but growth occurred, complexities occurred. So, in Act 6, you realize that the elders ... And these are the disciples. 11 of the original 12. They were faced with allegations of discrimination. That'd kill a church pretty fast if there's allegations. The daily food allocations appeared to be inadequate for the Greek widows, so they were being allegedly charged with some form of discrimination. 

I don't ... I wasn't there. Don't know. But I don't think it was a matter of discrimination. I think what it was, is that growth and the complexity that came with it, they didn't properly manage and plan and administrate. They didn't use their gifts, and maybe they didn't have great gifts of administration. So, what did they do? That's the rise of the biblical office of what? Of deacons. That's exactly right. 

That was their response organizationally. You go, "Organizations? They're only church." Yeah, you know, they were meeting daily. There was probably a great deal of organization, and it was an area that they left unattended. They didn't realize that it was a problem until this complaint arose. Can you imagine how shocking it was? It was like, "Really? We're not trying to discriminate. We're just gettin' our butt kicked here, because of there's just so many people. We don't know how to do this. We've never done this before."

I'm sure you've never thought that. 

In that, there's a reaction organization. So, if there's a biblical basis for this idea, it's found between Acts 2 and Acts 6.

Probably another great example, that we don't have the time to flush out, is King Solomon was given the great gift of wisdom and knowledge to govern God's people. Why? Because God finally wanted to have a temple built, and he used his father and other's to be able to get to a place of unifying the kingdom. So Solomon could what? Levy lots of taxes, and have a lot of people work to build the Temple of God. The presence of God. The gifts that were required ... Solomon is the wisest person, next to Jesus, that ever lived. He was giving his gifts. So, why? Because he needed those talents, those administrative and other skills, to be able to build God's presence, the Temple of God. 

Let me get on to Keller. 2006, Keller writes this seminal work. It's absolutely brilliant. He sets a new standard. I was at Mars Hill at the time that the leadership team was reading this, so here's what we were experiencing. 

I came on when we were at about 2,800 people, with three campuses. I was finally fired when we were ... It was 9,000, with 12 campuses. When we read Keller's work, it was unbelievable for us. He actually gave language to things that we had never known, these concepts. We blew through the house church, to small, to medium, and large, and very large size threshold almost every year at several campuses. 

There was one Sunday that we planted ... Oh. This is a really good one. We planted five campuses in three states on the very same Sunday. What a great idea that is. 

Let me just give you some context, is that when we plant a campus, we didn't plant 'em as a house church. We didn't plan 'em as a small. If we couldn't plant 'em from 250 to 350 people, we wouldn't plant. It was just unbelievable. I hope that you see in this that we made a lot of mistakes, because we did. But, it was almost like Gospel truth when we read Keller's work. 

Here's what we were able to do. We were able to anticipate the changes that were associated with moving from one church size to another. We could actually begin to see patterns, because we suddenly had a language and a concept force that Keller had written. We could see that. His descriptions of what was happening in the church, like the National Weather Service talking about a hurricane, "Hey. This is coming." We could see and we could believe that it was coming based on the complexities that would occur. Suddenly, as you think back in retrospect, you could start putting things into different buckets. That's what I'm hoping to provide to you. 

This growth, just by the way, here's what it strained. It strained every ministry. There wasn't any ministry that was immune to it. It effected our service order. Even the amount of time that was allocated to a service. It was that crazy from a ministry standpoint. Every facility and space, every system that we had, the roles and responsibilities of staff and key volunteers, administering leads. Organization charts. We got so tired. We couldn't keep track of things, so we finally just gave up publishing organization charts because of complexity until we actually had built some different systems.

It changed our strategic framework. What do I mean by, strategic framework? It's the defining of your mission, the outcomes that you produce, the shared values you have, your vision of where you're going, and your strategy of "Okay. How do we achieve the vision?". It changed that, every time we went from one size to the other.

It changed our polity and governance. It changed our finances. And, it changed every meeting agenda that we had. It also changed the length of our day. The day just didn't end, seemingly. 

If you're following, I'll go back on script now. So, if you're following in some of the notes ... Keller's model, an overview of it. How many are familiar ... Have a working knowledge of the model?

Okay. For those though, that you may not be familiar. The major thesis of Keller is that strategy changes with growth. As you move from one church size ... And he defines five church sizes. Small, which is up to 40. How many of you are at a church that's a house church size? Okay.

The next level is small. That's generally 40 to about 200. Next is medium - 200 to 450. Large - 400 to 800. And then, very large. 

Gosh what church do you go to? 

[inaudible 00:22:00]

Those are the five church sizes. 

He has 10 basic principles that he talks about. One, he talks about increasing complexity. Second, shifting lay ... Whatever language that you use. The key volunteers. The people who are non-vocational. Shifting lay and staff responsibilities. The increasing intentionality. Where what you're doing now at a house church, may be just flowing. It's so relationally rich that you don't have to give a lot of attention to it, but when you get to a small, medium, large, or very large, the complexity is just exponential. There's an increasing redundancy of communication. The quality of production. 

Oh my goodness. We used to spend ... At Mar's Hill, if you ever wondered how much money that we spent on ... We had ... Anybody know what a red camera is? Yeah. So, a red camera ... ABC News, at the time that we bought ... As the Executive Pastor I had an order on my desk for three red cameras. ABC News, the evening news, they had one red camera. We had three because with the way that we did church, with the screens, the quality of production, we were spending 3% of our budget on technology. It was a big, big chunk of money. We didn't just get there, but as we went from one size to another, man, the technology budget went right with it. Which means that we didn't have money to spend on other things.

Increasing openness to change. If you're in ministry and God is gonna grow your church, and change is a problem for you, you might not be in the right ... Well. Maybe you're exactly where you're supposed to be, because God's gonna work on that because you really need to be open to change.

Next, is the fact that you lose members because of the change. That really hurts. If you're a small church, some of the core group that you have, suddenly they leave because they don't like the changes that are being made. It's really painful to lose friends and close people that were there with you from the very start.

The role of the pastors. There's a significant need for you to do a makeover. Especially if you're the Lead Pastor, you might have to do three, four, five makeovers if your church is rising through several different size categories. 

Structuring smaller, which usually means community groups, or classes, or different types of ministries where people get a chance ... Because as church gets bigger, it's really hard to have any significant relationships. In a church that's gathering and there's 1,800 people meeting on a Sunday morning, that's not much of a sense of community. 

Lastly, number 10. An emphasis on vision and strengths. It just occurs that you have to use vision more to lead, the larger the church, on vision. And then the strengths of the team, to be able to help lead the size. 

So, Keller has the five different sizes, and he talks about all five of them in three different ways. He talks about the character of each size. How it grows. And then, crossing the threshold. What's needed to go to the next size level. 

Not necessarily that you're trying to say, "Well, let's move this thing from 180 to 220." You're not trying to do that. What you're basically saying is, "It's moving. When we come back from the summer, we've been averaging 180. We know by looking it's just going to blow through the 200 mark, and we've got to do something about it."

In your notes, I didn't know what to call this. So, you have Keller's model and then, I call it, the Beltz Boost. We're both Tims. He's the doctor, and I'm just a dumb MBA. But, I've been operating in this space of dealing with this change so much that so, the boost that I may be able to give Keller's model is to talk about, "How do you deal with this?" The hurricane is here, how do you structure this? 

You can see in the notes, some of the differences. I'm looking at the time. I don't want to spend a lot of time here. You have the notes, but here's what ... I guess the contribution that I would make to the Keller model, is that in those five different size categories, I see four different areas. I called them buckets earlier. As a church crosses a size threshold, those buckets are one. Often there's an impact. Sometimes a significant impact in the founding documents. 

What am I saying, "founding documents"? Well, if you have the articles of incorporation, that allow you to legally found your church as a corporation in the state in which you're registered, you also have to have bylaws. In the bylaws, you're describing how you're organized. Who makes decisions, regarding what. So, the bylaws often change from that house church to the next size, because why? Because suddenly your leadership team grows, instead of you just being a sole elder. Wouldn't it be nice to have a couple of more elders? And it really depends. 

If you're elder led, and congregationally affirmed, and a lot of you churches are that way, what's gonna happen then is that, it's no longer just you making all the decisions. That, or you might have a group of ... And you don't have any other elders so you probably have got a team of some key, gifted volunteers, that can help you. What happens over time, is you grow and you start having three or four elders, the power then might shift to them. Or there's tons of other iterations of what could happen. That change in who's making what decisions needs to be captured in your bylaws. It might be that the growth size that you just went through might trigger a change your bylaws. Well, that's a lot of fun. No. They're horrible. 

A second thing, would be revision to the strategic framework. Some of the examples, I'll go into this a little bit, but as you get a little bit bigger you, as the Lead Pastor, you have to lead more on the vision of the church than relationally. They say that generally speaking a Lead Pastor can personally shepherd 150 to maybe 200 people. Where you're ... As children are being born, as people go into the hospital, they're suffering injury, or you're there to console families when death occurs, or weddings, and major life events, you're able to care for that many. 

But suddenly, if you go from 200 to 300, that job as chief shepherd has changed. We'll talk just a minute about other things that happen in the church. What happens is, is then you're gonna need some help.

That means your strategic framework. What happens if you have just sort of a ... "Well. Yeah. We have a mission statement. We have some values. Yeah. We got this sort of vague vision statement." But suddenly if you have to lead by vision and you've got this mediocre statement that says, "Yeah. We're sort of headed in this direction, but it's not very clear." Maybe it's time that you have to refresh that. There are changes that happen that are really fundamental changes that happen that cause you to go back to your strategic framework.

The third bucket, is the design and establishment of some overarching organizational principles. Let me give you an example of that. That would be theology and philosophy. 

As the church gets bigger, you need to structure smaller, according to Keller. So, you might now have groups. It'd be really helpful if you had some theology and philosophy of groups. Instead of most churches just like, "Well, we'll just do it." But suddenly they start growing. What does the Bible say about how to handle the groups? Or, let's maybe go into another area of care and counseling. 

It'd be great to have ... There's so many different stops along that spectrum. What school of thought are you going to use? What's it gonna look like? Are you going to pay thousands of dollars to have a few people that can minister to just a couple of people? Or are you gonna try to handle care and counseling in a different way? So, you need a theology of care. Those are some of the major pieces. 

The other thing might be in some of the operational systems of budgeting. People, now they're giving, your budgets getting close to a million dollars or more. They wanna know how you're stewarding the money. So, a good budgetary process. Those are some examples of really high level organization. And, when I say, "organization," I'm meaning the church. But. the church is an organization. The church is a corporation, as well. 

The last piece, the last bucket,  is the creation of major policies, processes, and procedures. How do we do certain things so that we're operating above reproach? Especially, how are we dealing with size? That's the piece that I look at. 

So, I'm gonna look at a small church. Man. So, here's what's happening. And you've got more information in your notes that I provided you than I'm gonna cover today. Remember, I told you with Keller, for a small church it's 40 to 200. He talks about character, how it grows, and then crossing the threshold. I'm gonna go quickly through that. You have the information.

The character of a small church. Jeremiah, this is your next ... This is what you're gonna grow into and you're gonna go, "Man. I can't wait." Well, yeah. But every crossing is a little difficult. 

Here's the expectation of a small church. Every member has a face to face relationship with every other member. That's one of the beauties of the small church. What happens from a small to a medium, we'll talk about that. That has to change. That's pretty significant, because the expectation on you as Senior Pastor is different. The emergence of several lay opinion leaders, who must support the changes. 

You don't have many elders at this point, and so you've got some key volunteers. Those key volunteers, you don't get a chance to relate with but you know what? You want to try to do some changes? You gotta bring them along. In a house church, you don't have to do that. They come. They just ... But now there's some form of organization. 

Informal communications at this point. Mostly word of mouth, and relatively swift. "Hey. Susan Smith has just had a heart attack." It's really just moments before the word spreads. All you have to do is just tell one or two people, and it spreads in a small church. That's really awesome to be able to do that. Or, conversely, the rumor. The Senior Pastor's, fill in the blank. Something that may or may not be true happens, and suddenly you have to address it as a leadership team.

The Pastor is still primarily a shepherd. The effective, loving shepherding of every member is the driving force of ministry. It's not the quality of your leadership. It's not the quality of your preaching. It's that shepherding. You're caring for people. They love it. And, they're relationally connected. You're having to structure a little bit smaller as you get a little bigger. The emphasis on vision and strengths, and the primary circle of belonging, is the church as a whole. Why? Because you can have a relationship with everyone else.

How it grows. Keller calls it the "backyard approach". It's newcomer's attraction to the relationships in the congregation. Their neighbors say, "Hey. Come to church with me. I got a really cool church. Everyone loves everyone here." That's how you grow. 

And then, a personal relationship to the Lead Pastor. You can actually go, in a small church, you can greet everybody by name. That's expected to be able to do that. And, "How you doin' today? I know that you sprained your ankle last week." I mean you know. You can manage that in a small church. The Lead Pastor in a small church can begin two or three new ministries, or classes, or groups, but with the backing of a few informal leaders. You can't do it on your own. You need their help.

So, how do you get to the next stage? Let's say that you're a small church and you're about ready to break the 400. How do you get to the next size? And, this is where you've got more information. The six changes that Keller talks about. There's multiplication options. There's a willingness and affordability to add another ministry staff member. So, suddenly now, that one staff member, now you have to be a manager and leader. There's a willingness to let power shift away from lay leaders to the staff. Especially as you bring on more elders. Those lay leaders, who are part of your board or trustees or whatever, the leadership council who are making decisions, it's now going in the hands of elders. There's a willingness to become more formal and deliberate in assimilation in communication. It's a little bit more difficult as you grow. An ability and willingness of both the Pastor and people to do less shepherding and more leading. 

That hurts. Especially, that's where you begin to lose people who says, "It wasn't this way in the beginning." "You're not caring for me." "I don't like the changes that are being made." And then, you're considering options to move to a new space or facilities, or add services, just because you're running out of room. 

Let's say that's happening in a small church. What I see is that, for the founding documents, there's not much impact. You might need a small tweak to the bylaws, especially if your polity is changing at all. Or you're changing ... You have now a couple of elders, and now you're making the decisions. It might be at this point is where you actually go and lease a building. You could do a house church before in someone's business, but now you actually have got to lease. Or another church might give you property. This is the place where you might go apply for state and property tax exemption. Why?

Why do you need a property tax exemption if it's a leased space? Because if you don't have the property tax exemption, the landlord who's leasing it to you may pass the property tax on to you. Why would you have to pay for that if you can qualify for a property tax exemption? There's a lot of churches that don't know that, and don't think about it. But you're wasting money by paying real estate taxes, when you don't have to. Even in a lease.

Strategic framework. There's need for greater clarity in core values, mission, and strategy as more newcomers are coming and being welcomed. Your values that are purposely lived out in ministry area provide stability and consistency for volunteers and staff. So, your numbers of volunteer teams are going up. What draws them together? Well, the shared values. People need to know where are we going, and how do we get there. That's what we mean by vision and by strategy.

The relational pain of Keller's Six Changes? It actually can be alleviated by casting a clear and compelling vision. Like, "Yeah. I know it hurts. I know that we don't have the relationship. I can't shepherd you the way that I shepherded you in the past. But here's the vision. Here's where we're going, so that the gospel can be preached and the kingdom be expanded. So more people can come to a knowledge and an understanding, and come to be believers in Jesus Christ. Isn't that worth giving up a little bit for those? You can work through that if you have a compelling vision.

Then the strategy. The strategy really expands beyond the relational, living life together. That's what it was in the house church, but it's more complicated now because you've just added two or three new ministries. And then, you need better decision making, and a strategic framework helps you do that.

Overarching policy, principles, polity. How you guys relate and work together and do governance, begins to emerge as additional Pastors come aboard. You need some clarity as to roles and responsibilities. That's important. There's an early need to think about preaching and worship standards. Why? Because as multiple people share those responsibilities, there needs to be some standards of excellence. 

Let's just say that you're the Lead Pastor of your church. After listening to me now for 40 minutes, you would never invite me to be a preacher at your church, unless you had some worship standards that says, "Hey, Beltz. You had better ... This is what I expect you to be able to do." Or, as a worship leader, you really want a certain quality. What's going to happen, as your church goes from house, to small, to medium, and large ... Man alive. You really have gotta be a very good musician usually to be on the worship team. And preaching, they're not gonna tolerate third string. If your third string is a couple standard deviations from where you're speaking.

So, what does that mean for you? That means you can never go on vacation more than a Monday to Saturday. So, you really have got to do that. Then, some major policies and processes. You'll see those in my notes. I don't ... Time is getting away from us. 

What I wanna do ... You also see the medium church, Keller's model. I'll talk just briefly about that because the case study that I have for you, is gonna get into this a little bit. Remember I said for a small church, the primary circle of belonging is the church as a whole? Well, Keller says, that the primary circle of belonging in the church is usually an affinity, class, or ministry program. That's what happens when you now get over 200, you're going from 200 to 400. You break that model. 

Your identity is not the church as a whole but it's the Sunday School class, the community group, the worship team that you're on, or the ministry team that you might be. That's your connection to the church. That's your identity. 

The Lead Pastor shifts somewhat away from being a shepherd, towards becoming ... Keller calls it a "rancher". Where training and organizing lay people doing ministry becomes the bulk of how you spend time at work. That means that you've gotta be pretty skilled in training, supporting, and supervising ministry and admin staff. 

None of those appeared as the Pastor of a house church. Very little of that at a small church. But suddenly now you've got to redefine your work differently. 

Leadership functions differently. How it grows is different. Before it was a "backyard approach". It's now a "side door approach". It grows as it multiplies classes, groups, services and ministries. You add a service, it's gonna grow. You add another site, of course it's gonna grow. You add community groups, different ministries, different outreaches, it's going to have an impact and bear fruit. And all that brings growth.

Classes. The quality of classes. They have to be great learning experiences. It's not good enough to do a mediocre membership class, or if you're gonna do some training. If it's not ... Has some quality and excellence to it, don't bother because it's really going to have an adverse impact, is what Keller says.

Music. Suddenly music is so much more important. It has to meet aesthetic needs. And preaching. The quality of preaching. It must inform and inspire in a medium sized church.

Crossing the threshold to break 400, churches have to break the old habits in the first five change areas of a small church. I went over those really quickly. Then, often number six has to occur, where you've actually got to move to a new space, just because you don't fit. And then, there's more centralized decision making. 

I'm not gonna get into my boost of the medium church because I think the case study is gonna do that. So, what I wanna do is I wanna give you a little bit of time.

You have a case study in front of you. This may be one to take back to your leadership teams. But, what I want to do is I just wanna quickly get you to think about this just a little bit. So, I'm gonna read it very quickly, and then I'm gonna ask you a couple of questions.

So, this church exists all over America and I'm not writing about a single church. There wasn't one that came to mind, okay? And, I did have lots of help from other Ex Ps. So, if it sounds like your church, Gulf Coast Community Church is not your church.

This one happened to launch in 2013. It had a core of 40 dedicated people, and they had two small groups. Attendance doubled the first two years, and they had to move to two different leased venues before finding an affordable facility that would seat 175 adults in the auditorium, and accommodate up to the 40 kiddos that were now coming. 

In 2017, this year, they broke the 200 attender barrier on Easter, and the two weeks following. Probably, like your church, after Easter, in the summer, probably attendance tailed off a little bit. They now have 12 small groups, meeting several nights each week. Attendance was soft during the summer months, which is to be expected but attendance surpassed 200 all four Sundays in September. They had broken the 200 barrier. 

Ministry leads are hearing repeated comments from members about difficulty in finding parking, and time delays in checking in and picking up their kids. It's all hypothetical. The Lead Pastor, my good friend Samuel Harris, the founding Pastor and primary teacher/preacher at Gulf Coast Church, loved the fact that he knew every family at the church. His warm, friendly, and personable qualities coupled with the ability for expositional preaching with clear application of the Gospel, likely is one of the key factors for the rapid growth of the church. He loves the flock, and they love him.

Samuel is gifted as a relational and motivational leader. He injects enthusiasm and inspiration with his small but growing leadership team. As to weaknesses, he readily admits to his lack of interest and competency in administrative and organizational areas. Truth told, Samuel and the elders have an aversion to organizational systems and processes. One could say that Gulf Coast Community Organization mantra is, "Show it to me in the Bible, or we aren't doing it here." We're talking about administration. Like, "No. I'm not gonna do this administration 'cause I don't see ... Where's the biblical mandate for that? I don't see it."

Organization. Attracting and equipping leaders is another natural talent of Samuel. He saw leadership potential in men and women right from the start, and he tirelessly poured into them. Now, in year four of the church, he has three elders, plus two more in the pipeline, five Deacons and eight other small group leaders. The church staff consists of two full time staff, Samuel and an administrator, who handles all church office functions. They have two part time staff, working 15 hours a week, a worship pastor and a small groups pastor.

The church is elder led, but members vote on all major issues like the annual budget, bylaws, and new elders. The small council of elders, that's what they call their leadership teams, governs and oversees the ministry of the church. So, they do both governance and management 'cause they're small, and it works for them. At least, seemingly it does.

Organization. Attracting and equipping leaders is another natural ... I did that already. I'm sorry.

Growth pain points. The constant and rapid growth experience since hard loss has taken a toll on Samuel and his leaders. The sheer number of both governance and ministry transactions arising from the growth are swamping them. The church admin threatens to quit monthly. What started as bi-weekly meetings to equip his elders, now has morphed into three or four hour long weekly sessions. Some even running six hours into the late evening. Meeting agendas now are full with items like, "Dealing with a crammed auditorium." "Kids in parking spaces are inadequate." "Consideration of establishing a second border council to handle the growing governance work load." "Bylaws update to document the growing governance complexities." "A need for additional staff." They need an Ex P, a kid's director, and increased hours for both the part-time pastors. They need to add a second Sunday morning service. Pressures to adopt a more formal assimilation and church membership process.

Perhaps the biggest issue of them all, is a private one for Samuel. He is increasingly aware of his need to re-engineer his role and responsibilities as the senior pastor, as a result of the rapid growth and complexity. It is now much more difficult to meet and know everyone at the church, and the effort required of him to serve as the primary shepherd for all members is crushing. Despite knowing the need for a personal makeover, he finds letting go a problem and feels a growing sense of doubt and uncertainty about his ability to lead Gulf Coast Community Church in the next season.