A couple of months ago, I wrote a blog on the challenge that a pastor faces in transitioning to leadership in a larger congregation. This promoted a response from a pastor friend in another state. I share his comments with his permission:
“I tried to pastor a large church with a medium-sized church style. It just about killed me. I resigned before I did them serious damage. They still love me, but it was extremely painful to face my ineffectiveness when I had done well in other churches. I was a picture of ‘The Peter Principle’ of so long ago, i.e., promoted one too many times. However, I was at an age that I didn't feel like I had the time or energy to change as dramatically as I needed to change, so I returned to the kind of church where my gifts best fit, and left the larger situations to those gifted for them. I guess I will spend the rest of my life wondering if I should have tried harder to press my growing edge.”
Change is never easy, but I wonder if my friend has sold himself short. Perhaps if he had been able to receive the right kind of support and encouragement, he could have built on his inherent strengths and developed the skills necessary to minister in a larger congregation. His comments do point out the fact that various sized congregations have different needs and require specific competencies of their pastoral leaders.
Over the next couple of months, I want to look at different size congregations and reflect on the necessary competencies for a pastor to be effective in each situation. By its very nature, such a task is fraught with danger! Each church is different, but my experience (and that of folks who are much more competent in this matter than I am) points to the differing needs of the family church, the pastoral or pastor-centered church, the program or distributed leadership church, and the corporation church.
I look forward to this exercise. You may not agree with my taxonomy or my observations, but your feedback would be appreciated.