Church size molds pastor’s role  

Posted by Denis Haack in ,

The Rev. James Pakala, director of the library at Covenant Seminary (St Louis), occasionally complies a “Select Items” noting articles, books and web sites that might be of interest to faculty. In issue # 249—27 March 2009, Dr Pakala comments on a book and itemizes how congregation size transforms the ministry of the church leadership:


Church Personality Matters: How to Build Positive Patterns, by Herb Miller (Chalice, 1999). The author is a consultant in congregational effectiveness and coeditor with Lyle Schaller and Cynthia Woolever of The Parish Paper: Ideas and Insights for Active Congregations. He offers “the ten major facets of church personality” (which somehow I couldn’t find readily), “the dozens of thinking and behavior patterns from which leaders consciously and unconsciously form each of those ten facets,” the mission and ministry results they yield, “procedures that leaders can use to identify their congregation’s unique personality,” and methods leaders can use to shape their church toward a “pattern that produces more effective mission and ministry.” As to church size, Miller offers these 12 openers to begin his 12 descriptions. Clearly he excludes non-Protestant churches. And his descriptions, while better than these interesting analogies, fit some Protestant traditions much better than others. Here are his analogies.

Churches with worship attendance of:

            1 to 40 “think and behave like an orchard owner who employs a seasonal worker”;

            41-70: “…like a farm family with several children who are an important part of its work force”;

            71-100: “…like a ‘Mom and Pop’ grocery store”;

            101-300: “…like a YWCA or YMCA….[with the] senior pastor’s role…that of a…[Y] director”;

            301-450: “…like a family-owned business….[who] cooperate with the paid staff to manage various ministries....[and] the senior pastor’s role” is that of a “Coach”;

            451-700: “…like a large department store” and senior pastor must shift from shepherd to rancher;

            701-900: “think and behave as if they were a shopping mall containing several privately managed stores….[and the] senior pastor is like the shopping mall executive”;

            901-1800: “…like a publicly owned corporation that values its staff because they bring special expertise….[and] the senior pastor…struggles….to avoid micromanaging…[just as he did with] lay committees when the church was smaller”;

            1801-3000: “…like a denomination”;

            3001-10,000: “build on the foundation of their previous size by tending to think and act like a medical school” and “the halo factor has replaced the jealousy factor” among other clergy;

            10,000 or more: “…like a large university that has a medical school, a law school, and other professional schools. The senior pastor is like a university president.”



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Denis - Interesting read, thanks for posting. For me it begs a question: How do those functional descriptions of the pastor's role comport with the biblical description of a pastor? If they don't line up, how do we respond?

March 28, 2009 at 4:48 PM

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