When congregations grow, sometimes the preacher is left behind. Castle Rock has set a new record in attendance this year, and over the last few months, we have added on average one family per week for over three months. On some Sundays, we announce two or three families that have placed membership. We have had a few baptisms over the last few months too. The reality of it, is that we are growing fast. And my life is changing because of it. My previous experience was with a congregation in the 160 range, and by the time I left, we were averaging 200 members. This was a easier dynamic to manage, but the 200 members were mostly 200 members. At Castle Rock, we are in a larger town, and we have a larger base of people. The amount of names that are new are huge. The previous work, we grew slowly, but here we are adding people so rapidly that each week we have new people. I been noticing myself having to learn some new lessons. The way I did ministry in the past is needing to change because of the added demands on my time. So here are some lessons from a preaching trying to keep up with growth.
1. Hourly Timetable. In the past, I might have one appointment a day. I would write in on the calendar, and make a note about the time. Mostly one person would ask for an appointment, and typically I could just say yes. The rest of the work for the day could be fit into the rest of the time. This is changing, typically, I have a couple of appointments for a day. I need to look at the day and plan out the timetable. The planning is more intense now. Just this week, I have this fear that I am missing something because on Sunday, people ask for appointments and lunch times, and studies, and I have to write them down then. In the past, I never brought my cellphone, now I have to because of needing to write down everything in the planner on the phone.
2. Preaching Comes First. I am not a office preacher, I love people. Typically, I would have time to go for coffee whenever and whereever. This has changed. I need some more chair discipline. In a larger congregation, the majority of the people who see you, or mostly have contact with you is from a sermon. If this struggles, the church struggles. This is the time that you have the largest impact for the week. You need to never let this slide.
3. Surrounded by Leaders. I have meetings, but often these meetings are with people who help me personally with a ministry I am learning or part of. I am a resource person for leaders. Also, there are people in the congregation that help with some of my tasks. I might be the official leader of a work, but there are people behind me that really make it happen. There is more delegation in my life.
4. Time Away. Years ago, if someone asked me to speak, it was a miracle, or someone else dropped out. Now I am speaking someplace once a month. People want to hear about what is happening, and because of my dissertation on missional transformation, people are asking me to talk about this in other churches. You have to balance this with family, and your congregation. When you are home, you will be running a 100 miles per hour.
5. You Feel Like a Loser. I love people, and love being friends with them. But sometimes you do not know the names, or mess up the names. I hate this. I always want to be personable to people. I like having a personal connection to the members of the congregation. But this is becoming harder with time.
6. You Are Thankful. I am so happy that we are growing fast these days. God is blessing the work, the community is growing rapidly, and we are adding ministries all the time. It is great being part of a living Church.
- Congregation in the City
- THREE STEPS INTO A CONGREGATION
- What Is A Mainstream Congregation
- Entering a Congregation
- Bottlenecks in a Congregation