Sitting in Singapore reading your blogs. After being in ministry for the last gzillion years & more and in particular having been on the "road" for the last 12 months; this journey that has afforded me the priviledge of "living" in many churches both large & small, I have come to a few conclusions that would influence me very strategically if I were ever to plant or lead a church again.
One, leadership development is not a culture in most churches-small or big. I see churches where the days are so very full of activities, which look so good but are not intentionally building any specific cultures. Rather there is a feeling of "I'm at the movies with much to choose from" that goes around. The leaders that are there, are always tired, unmotivated and duty bound! I would plant a church and create cultures by hitting 4 or 5 bulding blocks in different ways all the time. For eg - Marriage, Children, Doctrine, Leadership, Men & maybe one or two more. A once a year marriage seminar does not create a culture....
Secondly, I'm not convinced a church that is "missional" will grow through the 150 mark. I have not seen this to be proved in practice. The key that either locks the church into the 150 mark or unlocks it beyond, is the leadership taint or leaning. To use three words that I think will become more prevelant in the days ahead - Prophet, Priest, King is part of the solution. In travelling, where the church is led by very priestly type men, there is little evidence of the church going beyond the 150 mark. I heard details of a survey/study that the University of Natal did on pastoral (you know, growing sheep etc) groups around the world. Their conclusion was those groups grew to around the 149.8 mark then had to split, plant etc.
Thirdly, my observation reveals that churches that do not put in systems that undergird what they are about, [will not grow]. [Those who do not] give the other leaders some teeth, will not flourish,... [if they do not offer folks a mountain to die on] they are actually in maintenance mode. To be honest, this does not have much to do with the 150 mark but is actually more about going beyond the hundreds into thousands. Even very large churches that look incredibly successful are not really. It is just the numbers that make it look that way. If those churches restructure and got some new mountains to run at, they would be amazing. So, a comment has turned into a mini-essay. I felt good writing it and hope some are helped through reading it.
Blog on friend! Tom T."