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Most of the leaders who hit the big blogs and sell the books come from larger, more ?successful? organizations. One question I often hear from people learning from these leaders is: My church is smaller, how do the leadership and creative tips apply to us?

A lot of leadership principles can be scaled and applied universally like vision casting, goal setting, team building, creative process, problem solving, etc.?But there are real differences between small and large organizations that need to be considered. Being aware of them and factoring them into plans and strategies will save time and increase efficiency in the organization.[quote]There are real differences between small and large organizations that need to be considered.[/quote]

Some of these key differences are:

1. Speed of Change

Most of us are familiar with the concept that it?s harder to steer a large ship. Similar to a large ship, changing course involves the chain of command, formal protocols, and informal processes. They are all more complex than those of a smaller church. Smaller churches are like a dingy or medium size yacht that needs less people, equipment, time, and space to correct course.

So if you?re leading a smaller church, take advantage of how quickly you can change. If you?re leading a larger church, understand that change takes time, and don?t let it frustrate you too much. As your church grows, temper expectations that the speed in which change used to happen will incrementally slow down. Plan and allow more time for people to catch vision and for culture shifts to be assimilated.[quote]If you?re leading a smaller church, take advantage of how quickly you can change.[/quote]

2. Speed of Decision-making

Directly tied to number one, the more people, teams, and leaders involved, the longer it takes to not only make a decision but to execute and communicate across an organization.

The complexity of planning and coordinating something as simple as a meal for 3 versus 20 volunteers is very different. The dynamics involved in budget, set up, scheduling, space needed and food restrictions, etc. slows the decision making process down. Similar to the number one, more time needs to be allocated for decision-making and decision disseminating as the size of the church increases.

3. Number of Rules

Larger organizations have a lot more policies, procedures, and rules that need to be complied with. Smaller ones have less but are inclined to make up new ones.

If you?re a smaller church, try to avoid making too many unnecessary rules. It?s important that a small church doesn?t get bogged down with big church bureaucracy. For larger churches, it is a good idea to re-evaluate some of the policies and procedures in place. It is important to keep things fresh and remove unnecessary rules and steps that slow you down.[quote]It?s important that a small church doesn?t get bogged down with big church bureaucracy.[/quote]

4. Number of Hats

In small churches, there tends to be a higher percentage of people serving while the exposure to serving opportunities for each person is wider. This makes it easier for volunteers to wear multiple hats. Even though the percentage is lower in larger churches, there are more options (often talented options) on which to draw. In larger churches, it is easier for someone to specialize. An interesting way to contrast the difference is ?all hands on deck? versus a ?deep bench?.

If you?re trying to get too specialized at a small church, there may not be enough work to make the role satisfying and valuable. Instead, give your team a broader scope of responsibility so team members can feel more worth and sense of ownership in the roles.

5. Accessibility of People

The larger the church, the more challenging it is to connect with the senior pastor and vice versa. At a small church, people tend to know everybody and everyone can feel like they?re spiritually connected to one another. Smaller churches feel like a small group. For larger churches, the need for small groups is critical.

Be sure your vibe matches your size. If you try to be too accessible in a large church environment, you?ll burn out. On the other side, though, if you try to put protocols in place that may not be applicable to a church your size, people will feel neglected and marginalized.[quote]If you try to be too accessible in a large church environment, you?ll burn out.[/quote]

Be as Small as You Can Be

One of the most important leadership lessons I?ve learned from my experiences in working with organizations of different sizes is to maintain a ?small? mindset. Jesus himself set the example and kept his ministry small. He undoubtedly had the ability to do more. He is God. He can do as much as He wants but He did not. He chose to do ministry alongside 12 and within the team of 12 he handpicked 3.

I am grateful for the opportunity to be part of a large church. It is exciting to be part of the growth God is blessing our church with. I?ve learned that no matter how big my team and our church gets, I have limitations. I can only work closely and lead a handful of people effectively. Therefore, the bigger we get, the more imperative that I am intentional about focusing in on the key leaders I can trust, equip, and empower to lead others.

Being aware of the key differences above, I can leverage the advantage of the nimbleness, intimacy, and efficiency of being small to overflow into a larger scale impact for our growing church.

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