A few months ago I sat down with my District Superintendent (DS) to talk about ministry and transitions, including my recent move. From the outside looking in, it was a big leap to go from a church of 130 to a church of 550. Who am I kidding, from the inside it looked like a gigantic leap! To be sure, there are some things about church that are universal and true wherever you go. And, as I’ve been learning, there are some things that are very different in different size churches.
After I was told of my new appointment, I spent a good bit of time talking with mentors and friends, particularly those of large churches, about what is different, what to expect, and how best to lead. One in particular who had grown his church from 70 to over 1200 in the years he was there was very clear, “The large church is not just a small church magnified. They are different.” I took that wisdom with me when I went to the new place. And I quickly learned I had no idea what that meant in real terms. Each week I was faced with something new and something different. I knew what I knew from before, but wasn’t always sure if what I knew from a medium church would fit with a large church. I will be very honest that I have prayed a lot for God to cover my shortcomings. I’ve talked a lot with those who I trust to give me guidance and share their wisdom. And I’ve learned a lot.
In my conversation with the DS he shared that he’s part of a planning team for a conference next fall called “Leap” that’s meant to train young leaders how to make the leap from a small or medium size church to a large one. They will be calling on a variety of church leaders to teach, lead, and inspire. He also said they will be looking for those who’ve experienced it recently to share their learnings. He laughed a little and said it would be too late to help me, but I could help the next person.
Since that conversation I’ve been noting things I’ve noticed, things I’ve learned, and things I wish I had known before I had taken the leap. I will be sharing those musings here in the hope that they might be helpful. Some things I’ve done well and other things I’ve fumbled a bit. And, of course, there’s a lot I’m still learning.