One of the little thought experiments Chris Green encouraged his leadership students at Oak Hill to do was to think in terms of the rule of ten. Think in terms of ten times less and ten times more. So, if you had a church of 100, then stop and think about what it would be like with a congregation of ten. What would be good about it, what would be bad, what would you do differently. Then think about the church with 1000 members and go through the same exercise.
COVID-19 has probably causes us to start to see such a thought exercise as a literal one. Bearwood Chapel had seen growth to a church family ranging between 140 and 180 in the last few years, leading up to the pandemic. However, we know that in person attendance is about 12-14 now. The elders hope this will pick up but what if it does not? What if it sticks at about a dozen. There again, if every person who has tuned in to the various online events were to turn up once free to do so, the church will be in a very different situation.
A church that is ten times larger will need to think about how to provide space for people. It will need to be efficient and effective in what it does, a level of professionalism will be needed. At the same time, there will also be a natural expectation and sense of occasion. A church that is ten times smaller will need a lot of encouragement and motivation. However, there wil also be a greater sense of intimacy, flexibility and family together.
Chris’s thought experiment asked us then to consider how we could bring that sense of family, encouragement and family together into a larger meeting and the sense of expectation and occasion with a level of professionalism into a smaller meeting.
Why not stop and do the exercise now. What would your church be like if ten times larger or smaller? It will help you think through how to do things differently. It may even prove literally useful depending upon how you come through the pandemic.