The stats aren’t pretty. In fact, they’re pretty deplorable. But they’re nonetheless accurate. Eighty percent of all Pastoral Size to Program Size church transformations fail – 80 percent. A Pastoral Sized church is one in which the pastor is essentially the end-all, be-all of the congregational expectations. They attend virtually every function and event. They facilitate virtually every meeting. And, in general, they plan everything the church is going to do. These pastors do almost all of the visiting of the sick, the infirm, the homebound, new visitors to the church, and membership in general. They’re busy bodies (as opposed to busybodies).These churches tend to have between 100 and 150 people in worship.

The Program Sized church is one in which the programs of the church are the end-all, be all. These
programs are overseen by teams or committees. The pastor’s role is to equip and support these leaders in doing ministry. This is the first level of the church where, in general, the pastor gets serious with the role of the pastor as defined in Ephesians 4:11-13 … the ministry of the pastor is to equip the church to do the ministry of the church, not the other way around (as is often the practice in Pastoral and Family sized churches).

The reason most of these transformations fail is that congregation’s core values in most North American churches, especially in churches that have been “stuck” at less that 150 for the last five or more years, is (1) Comfort and (2) Status Quo. In other words, “This is my church and I just want to be comfortable.” and “I don’t want to change … and I especially don’t want my church to change.” With those two core values, it’s practically impossible to transform a church – for obvious reasons.

But 20 percent of churches that attempt the Pastoral to Program sized transformations succeed. What’s different about them? I leave you with a bullet list of differences. The question is, where is your church on the list?

  • The pain of remaining the same outweighs the pain of change. It’s amazing what desperation will drive you to.
  • The pastor is committed to seeing the transformation through … regardless of the pain.
  • The congregation is committed to seeing the transformation through … regardless of how much a pain their pastor is.
  • The congregation quickly develops and adopts expected behaviors and their full DNA.
  • There is little ongoing conflict, and no serious conflict.
  • Bullies and Terrorists are either converted, neutralized, or shown to the door.
  • The pastor has a coach and a mentor … and is both coachable and teachable.
  • The congregation’s leaders are committed to developing their spiritual maturity – even if they’re already spiritual giants, they know they have further to go.
  • The congregation and the pastor all have this attitude: “It’s all about God. This is God’s church, not mine, and God is willing to do ANYTHING, even going to his death on a cross, to reach the lost in the neighborhood. Because God is willing, I will follow.”