One Size Doesn’t Fit All
One Size Doesn’t Fit All
Our home is full of baseball hats! All together our four sons have played on over 40 travel and school teams and have collected over 100 hats. So you might say I have become something of an expert on baseball hats!
You may or may not know that there are two primary kinds of baseball hats. There are “fitted hats” and “one-size-fits-all-hats.” Fitted hats are hats made to the exact circumference of a particular head – right down to an eighth of an inch. So when ordering a fitted hat you need to know your head size; whether that be 7 ¼ inches or 7 5/8 inches. But a “one-size-fits-all” hat has an adjustable plastic strap in the back that allows the hat to fit any size head.
It occurs to me that churches are kind of like baseball hats. When it comes to size, they aren’t all the same. There are small churches and there are large churches. There are things that smaller churches can do that big churches can’t do; and there are things that big churches can do that smaller churches can’t do.
For example: I grew up in churches that were generally around 200-300 people on any given Sunday morning. In those churches it was generally true that everyone knew everyone else and the pastor (my father) pretty much knew everyone personally. In smaller churches that is possible; in big churches it is not. In larger churches it’s important that everyone is known by someone, but no one can be known by everyone! Some people really like and respond to a church that is small enough where everyone can know everyone else. Other people prefer to be part of a church where they can be anonymous if they want to be.
On the other hand, the churches I grew up in didn’t have a full time staff member or pastor who led children’s ministries; or middle school ministries. We didn’t have student mission trips or even adult mission trips for that matter. Those smaller churches just didn’t have the financial or personnel resources to do that kind of thing. And some people really like being part of a bigger church that can provide ministry opportunities for children and students; and that can provide multiple worship options for their family.
So, when it comes to churches, one size does not fit all.
When I was preparing my year-end report for the Annual Meeting of our membership back in August, a several numbers jumped out at me.
First, I noticed that over the past year, our congregation gave over $200,000 away to individuals and families in need through our Benevolent Fund. That total would have been more than all our staff salaries in 1986.
Second, I noticed that over 200 of students and adults participated in short term mission trips in the past year. That number is equal to almost half of the average worship attendance of FBCG when I arrived as Youth Pastor in 1986.
Third, I saw that our Food Pantry ministry served an average of 225-250 families per month over the past year. In fact, our Food Pantry and Compassion in Action ministries are now making an impact that rivals the local Salvation Army!
By any measurement FBCG is now a large church. What started as 7 Swedish immigrants in 1894; and was a worship family of some 450 people in 1986 is now a church family of more than 4,000 people.
I am sometimes asked to explain how and why FBCG has grown over the past 20 years. My best answer includes the following:
- Our local community has also experienced significant growth over that time period
- FBCG has been blessed with wise spiritual leadership in both pastoral staff and lay leaders
- The FBCG congregation has consistently been willing to adapt and change in order to reach our community and world
- The Holy Spirit has empowered FBCG in ways that are impossible to quantify
- God has simply chosen to use FBCG in this local community and the world
I have also been asked, “How big should the church get?” or, “How big is too big?”
I usually answer this question by affirming that one size does not fit all when it comes to churches. Some people will thrive in smaller churches, some in larger churches. But it seems to me in the New Testament that Jesus wants his church to grow, both in numbers and in maturity, and that, ultimately, FBCG’s growth is up to him. The Book of Acts tells us:
And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. (Acts 2:47)
Our job as leaders is to try to be faithful to his word and to identify and eliminate barriers that might keep his church from becoming what he wants it to be.
We believe God is calling FBCG to a unique season of kingdom impact; locally as well as globally. We believe God is calling us to make the gospel visible and tangible through “Serve the World.” We also believe that, in order to accomplish what he wants us to accomplish, we will also need to expand our hearts, our generosity and our facilities; in that order.
We’ll talk more about the relationship of facilities to ministry in the next entry!
Pastor Brian Coffey