The Episcopal Church Center has published a paper as part of their Congregational Vitality Series titled, "Sizing Up a Congregation." The document addresses the dynamics at work in congregations of various sizes. The paper groups churches into four size categories:
- Family Church - Small, up to 50 active members
- Pastoral Church - Medium, from 50-150 active members
- Program Church - Large, from 150-350 active members
- Corporation Church - Extra Large, 350+ active members
The document does not assign more value to a church of a particular size, but tries to help leaders understand what influences are at play and what processes will or will not work in a particular size church.
For each church, the following five questions are answered:
- What is the basic structure of each type of church?
- How does each category typically attract new members?
- What are the predominant characteristics of entry for the new member?
- What are the basic needs of the new member in each size congregation?
- How might a church most effectively meet those basic needs of a new member?
This information can be a huge help when hiring a worship staff member. A candidate who is currently ministering in a Family Church will have a massive learning curve when moving to a Corporation Church of 1,000 members. The rate at which a musical style change can be processed in a large church is much different than in a small church. And success in one size church does not automatically translate to success in a church of another size. Both the staff member and the congregation will have to be willing to adapt to new realities.
"Sizing Up a Congregation" is a good place to start when considering church size dynamics.
For further reading, see:
Tim Keller's excellent paper, "Leadership and Church Size Dynamics: How Strategy Changes with Growth"
Roy Oswald's helpful article, "How To Minister Effectively in Family, Pastoral, Program and Corporate-Sized Churches"