The second month of my ministry at Northridge (February 2001), our church averaged 249 Sunday AM attendees. We had averaged 287 my first month. I'm not sure if we actually lost 38 people in my first month or if everyone wanted to come check out the "new guy" so attendance was higher. I'm guessing it is the latter, but I'm not sure. So I think the 249 is a more accurate number for our attendance twelve years ago. This year, we've begun to cross the 1400 mark on some Sundays.
I've discovered that leading a church of 250 is much different than leading a church of 1400.
There are great blessings of pastoring a growing church and there are some significant burdens.
Let me share with you four of the greatest blessings of pastoring a larger church:
- I get to spend more time preparing for my sermons than I used to. When I first started here – there were three church employees – our church secretary, Dave Boehm and me. The other paid employee was our janitor who didn't attend church here and likely wasn't a believer. Now we have a lot more employees which allows me to focus more on my sermons than I used to. That is a huge advantage to our church.
- I get to focus on doing what I do best. I'm not a great counselor. We have staff who do that better than me. I wouldn't lead Community Groups well (I don't even lead my own community group well). I wouldn't be a good youth pastor anymore (I may have been a dozen years ago – although the jury is still out on that one). I wouldn't be valuable brainstorming on ideas for children's ministry. If I led Starting Point, it would be a disaster (I'd want to "tell" everyone all the right answers). The larger we are, the more I can focus what I am best at – teaching and leading, and let others do what they do best (and what they do much better than me).
- As a church, we have a bigger footprint. We recently gave away tens of thousands of dollars to other ministries. We couldn't have afforded to do that twelve years ago. I love that we have more resources to be more effective at what we do. We received an offering that was about 2.5 times the normal size of our weekly offering and we gave 100% of it away!
- The quality of everything we do is way higher in a larger church. Our music is better. Our facilities are better. Our ability to meet needs is better. I love all of that.
There are also some burdens with leading a larger church (although 1300 isn't huge – it is larger than any church I've ever attended). Tomorrow I will mention the most significant disadvantage of pastoring a larger church.