andy stanley, the senior pastor of a mega-church in suburban atlanta (north point community church), is an interesting guy. he’s extremely focused; very clear on what he and his church are attempting to accomplish (and, frankly, they’re accomplishing it quite well). he has spoken multiple times at the ys convention in the past. every time he has spoken, prior to this last fall, i have thought he had very prophetic and challenging messages. i remember very few messages over the years from our conventions, but i still remember andy’s — especially his talk on ministry leaders needing to “cheat” on some area (family, ministry), and his challenge to cheat on our ministry time, not our families, trusting that god will fill in the gaps in our ministries. i think this talk even became a book. this last fall, i wasn’t quite as keen on what he had to say (it actually made me pretty mad) — but that’s another subject.
but i was blown away by a few things from andy this week. adam cleaveland posted about visiting andy’s church on his blog (adam’s) pomomusings. and andy responded with (what i saw as) an appropriately funny response — in the comments section. this opened up a virtual can-o-worms of comments (it will take you a long time to read them all!) in all of this, i was very impressed by andy’s openness and willingness to engage and respond (kudos, andy). but, he really caught my attention with his comment about his church’s strategy for when a church is too big. he posed the question, and left it hanging; then came back later and responded with the following strategy:
As to the optimal church size… I pretty much agree with what everyone has written. In fact, our answer to that question may seem a bit…simplistic… compared to previous entries.
Our theory is that a church should be allowed or encouraged to grow large enough to sustain a viable high school and middle school ministry. A successful student ministriy requires critical mass in order to capture and keep the attention of their target audience. So the question becomes, how many aduilts are required to generate critical mass for a student ministry? That depends upon the demographic of a community.
If you are a twenty six year old seminary student with a couple of kids in diapers that may not sound like a great answer. But if you are a church planter with 150 people and one of your elders just informed you that her family is leaving because you don’t have anything for her thirteen year old, it makes painful sense.
Parents will put up with a lot in big church if thier teenagers feel connected to a student ministry.
That’s it. Reaction welcomed. We’re still learning.
what an interesting idea. what a wonderful thing for a senior pastor (and a whole church) to embrace! whether you agree or not (i think i do, but i need to noodle on it a bit more), any youth worker HAS to appreciate this kind of attitude from a mega-church! and, really, i’d SO much rather mega-churches have this kind of attitude than one that says, “we’ll just throw millions of dollars at our youth ministry and build it into the biggest flagship youth ministry in the nation.”