Excellence Must Be Chosen For a Mid-sized Church to Grow

Some decisions to excel are tough to make, for they take you out of the “aw shucks” mode, and call for strong pastoral leadership. See if you are willing!

Senior Leadership

1. The pastor earns and embraces the role of senior leader of this ministry, this local church, by vision, hard smart work, and excellence.

2. The pastor makes the hard calls to improve and make excellent the work of friends on staff—either to demand a change or dismiss the person.

3. The pastor defines the board’s role as guardianship of excellence and guidance of values rather than that of management and staff functions.

4. The pastor and staff choose, at least subconsciously, to “swim hard” rather than to “float,” to excel rather than to be comfortable.

5. The speaking pastor continually improves.

6. The leader risks being a little obsessive about details of ministry, believing “the little pixels make the big picture.” Even non-chalant strong leaders worry about small excellencies.

7. The senior leader envisions and teaches the embraceable values and purposeful mission goal for the church.

8. Fewer people are involved in congregational decisions. Voting at annual membership meetings pertains to call of senior pastor, main board, budget and capital decisions, and constitution issues. This can be hard for people who remember the small “church family” meetings.

Pastoral and Church Staff

1. There is a “point person” from the paid staff for each of the ministries and potential ministries that should be in a larger church. The point person is the one who studies and envisions what can be done in that ministry area, and to whom volunteers go when they are frustrated or have a need. (Otherwise the senior pastor will be the point person for all ministries.)

2. Staff takes the time and risk to select and orient a “ministry manager,” a lead volunteer, for each specific area of ministry.

3. Staff are organized for true accountability for goals, work, and attitudes. Not all of them like this.

4. Delegation to and training of volunteers is not yawned at by the staff. It is easier to do it yourself, but not better.

5. Administrative staff and part-time coordinators are used well and held to excellence standards.

6. There are specialists for major areas of ministry such as worship, care, missions, youth, kids, and administration.

Main Board

1. They have a “job description” for the board and do not operate the same way as they did when the church was smaller and they were dealing with daily management and ministries and Sunday services.

2. They do not allow “tribal chiefs” who enjoy authority to lead the board by sheer power of personality. Instead they follow biblical principles for vision and excellence.

3. The board is not too small. Two or three elders (plus the pastor-elder) are an “aw-shucks” group rather than a board for foundations, resources, values, and visions.

4. The pastor and board chairman are “on the same page.” They agree to unite on divisive issues before they go to the board.

5. People feel they are called to the board not to “represent” a segment of the congregation but rather to serve as one mind for the best for all the church.

6. Individual board members do not “elder” as individuals as they walk the halls or talk to people. Instead they act only as one mind and make decisions only when they are all together.

7. The pastor earns the role of senior leader among leaders by vision, hard work, and excellence.


1. The pastor and worship leader worry about details, themes, segues, mood, timing, excellence, appropriateness; sensitivities to unbelievers; and proper enjoyment, worship, and challenge for believers.

2. There is a point person on staff and a volunteer ministry manager in charge of guests and assimilation, a most important ministry for a growing church.

3. Leaders give careful consideration to styles of worship music and whether to have one style, a variety, or The Blend.

4. There is excellent signage, a good welcome center, a security system for children’s area, and clean halls and rest rooms.

5. Participants are not chosen to help in worship services to give them experience or because they are veterans in the church. A standard of excellence is graciously, tactfully kept. There may be a warm family spirit, but not all the family lead or speak up front.

6. There is a strong desire to plan services and say things from the platform that do not alienate guests or unbelievers. This can be guarded without compromising the gospel. If there is anything offensive, it is the cross, not our in-house jokes or evangelical habits.

7. Services start and end at consistent times, in most of our cultures, and the attenders can also count on consistent excellence.

8. Speakers and pulpit people refrain from inside-jokes or excessive church “family” references that make guests feel like outsiders.

Groups for Community and Personal Growth

1. There is a point person on staff to study strategies for true community and care in the Sunday and home mid-sized groups of the church.

2. There is a good understanding of how excellence in community and care are achieved in both Sunday and home groups. People are urged to join one or the other.

3. There is excellent provision for the needs of senior adults, who often like their meeting and study time to be on campus on Sunday. Many rumor mills start with seniors and we want them to give a good report.

4. Sunday groups are designed not just for content (electives or straight teaching). Real community is developed.

5. Leaders recognize that a mid-sized home group (ten or more) is not true discipleship, but is true community with study and application. These are good purposes, but discipleship-accountability happens best in gender-specific groups of seven or eight or less, in groups that stay together for that specific purpose.

6. Churches use short electives (three to five weeks only) as good entry points for sanctuary people. When this elective-entry method is used, the people there are introduced to and invited to the regular Adult Bible Fellowships (community-study groups) that meet all the time. They are urged to try these as the elective closes.

7. ABFs and Home ABFs are asked to take on regular ministries as a group—in the church, or community, or in support of missionaries. Many churches that used to neglect this now see the good of groups adding ministry and a mission to their purposes.


1. There is a strong concern and strategy from the pulpit and staff and lay leadership to be strongly missional locally and around the world—with near and far both being strong emphases.

2. Leadership for local and global starts with pastoral staff, instead of being delegated to mission-minded lay leaders, as is often the case in smaller, family-type churches.

3. There is a carefully planned strategy for helping with needs of individuals or groups in the area or city.

4. There is a point person on staff responsible for local mission, and volunteer ministry managers who care for specific local ministries.

5. There is a strategic plan to become known in the area.

6. There is a strong percentage of missions offerings designated for local concerns, or at least a goal for this.

7. Leaders do not make the wide, often artificial gulf between spiritual help to people and physical medical- holistic help—without forsaking the high goal of redemption spiritually, and the establishment of churches.


1. Leaders emphasize both “wings of the airplane”—“come and see” (to the church services and special attractors), and “go and tell” (the witness of the individuals to neighbors, friends, and others). One is called “attractional” and the other “missional.” Both can be excellent.

2. There is a point person… 


1. There is a standard of excellence for all brochures and emailings that represent the church. Usually one person or department must approve. Homey ways are nice, but… This includes or starts with the website and bulletin.

2. Leaders know one announcement in a public service means little. There are multiple ways to stress what is for all the church.

3. Whatever announcements or “pushes” make the public service are done by the one who can do them best.

4. There is a person selected to keep the church in the news for good publicity, and to manage talking points and be spokesperson when there is bad news.

5. The senior pastor accepts the role that increases in importance as the church grows larger—to be the main spokesperson and vision-caster for the church. This may include short emails to the church, campaign news or promotions from up front, a brief pastor’s note in the bulletin, and other ways of communicating mood and cheerleading vision.


1. The senior pastor disciplines self to share the responsibility. Care is done through the Sunday and home groups, and others on staff or part-time care people and volunteers do a lot of the normal pastoral care. In some cases “it is not the same as it used to be,” but normally the attention to needs can be more excellent.

2. One of the people in #1 is seen as the senior care-giver rather than the lead pastor.

3. Others on staff have care responsibilities (discipleship, tragedies, crises, etc.) for the people in the areas they lead.


1. Better, cleaner, more important.

2. A lot of volunteers may be utilized, but the oversight responsibility shifts to a person on staff. 3. Every growing church longs for more lobby!