What do small churches need, and how does their size affect the meeting of these needs?
- Like large churches, small churches need a mix of gifts in leadership. I think the APEST formulation captures this mix most clearly: Apostle, Prophet, Evangelist, Shepherd, Teacher. Many leaders–maybe even most–are competent, even excellent, in more than one area. No one but Jesus was excellent in all five.
- Ergo, small churches need more gifts in ministry than a single pastor can possess. They often do not have the financial resources to support even one mature, experienced pastor with family, however.
- This lack of resources means that small churches usually cannot hire to add gifts to the mix. They must depend on laypeople.
- Large churches often have an unhealthy divide between paid staff & laity. Sometimes this is caused by the pressures to be polished and “perfect”. Sometimes it’s cultural, due to the religious heritage of a particular community. Sometimes it’s caused by laziness & affluence: “We’ll hire someone to do that, too.” Whatever the cause, it’s always a warning sign. In small churches, this divide is deadly. People MUST be working together, using their gifts to build the church & minister to the community.
Can a small church assess its own peoples’ gifts for ministry & strategically hire a team of two or more bivocational ministers with complementary gifts? While avoiding the “CEO builds his team” in favor of building a leadership team of equals? The added complication of adding a second job outside the church makes this difficult.
It’s easier to see how this would work in a church that already has a bivocational pastor. Easier still how it would work in a church plant, or a missionary setting.
It’s harder for me to see how an established small church with a history of full-time do-it-all pastors would make this switch.
I think churches that are elder led might find it easier that churches that are pastor-led.
Still working through this one.