How Normative Size Church Pastors Recruit Leaders - Life Path Research (2023)

How Normative Size Church Pastors Recruit Leaders - Life Path Research (1)

By Ken Braddy

A group of pastors and church leaders talk about what it is like to recruit leaders in a church of normative size.

What are some of the unique gifts and challenges of recruiting group leaders in a full-size church? Ken Braddy, Director of Sunday School at Lifeway, recently spoke with four pastors from normative churches (those with 50 to 150 attendees) on the podcastDiscipleship in Community. Here's a look at their conversation.

What is your favorite part about pastoring a church of normative size?

Chris Johnson, præst i Grace Church, Hendersonville, Tennessee:

You know the people. It is small enough that you can make these connections.

Tod Tanner, vice president of the Tennessee Baptist Foundation:

Creates a family feeling. You get to know people, but even within that, when you get to know them, you go on a journey with them. You really are family. And I maintain that we still need family.

Ron Brown, pastor i Crestmont Baptist Church, Burleson, Texas:

You have the opportunity to get to know each other on a deeper level, which I find both beautiful and disturbing for some. We know each other's struggles, heartaches, family dynamics and stories. And as a shepherd, I get to know the sheep better.

Brian Gass, pastor of First Baptist Howell, Tennessee:

We keep it real. There is no pretending. Everyone knows your everyday life, so you don't turn up at church on Sunday and become someone else. We have people from almost all walks of life. But we just love each other as a family.

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What are some of the unique challenges of recruiting leaders in a church your size?

Tod Tanner:

One of the most important things you need ishigh intentionality. When you have guests over, don't walk up to them, hand them a Sunday School book and say, "Hey, the Lord's got you on your heart." Instead, be very intentional when you see a guest. There are guests in the area. There are ways to get in touch and try to find new people. But one of the biggest challenges is being very conscious with churchgoers and trying to recruit them into leadership.

Cris Johnson:

There just aren't many options. It is a small number of people who can potentially lead a group. There are individuals who apply and it's a matter of seeing if you can work with their schedules and what's going on in their lives. And you have to be creative to find those solutions.

Ron Brown:

Our biggest challenge by far is leadership dispersion. If we have to recruit new leaders, it almost always involves robbing Peter to pay Paul. We're taking someone from another service area to meet that need here.

Cris Johnson:

We are a church plant. We are in the early stages of helping people understand the importance of being part of a group. Communicating and helping people understand the meaning and value of groups is an essential part of what we do right now.

Are there any particular ways you can overcome some of the challenges? Are there ways you've found to help overcome people's objections or concerns about taking on a leadership role?

Tod Tanner:

Recruiting leaders is a great opportunity to be able to teach and move forward on Romans 12 which lists spiritual gifts. If it is a church of normative size, one person is not able to do everything. We can stand on the truth of what God said, go into Romans 12, go into Ephesians 4—that's the authority of the saints.

The pastor's job is not to do all the work of the ministry, but to equip the saints for the work of the ministry. When we stand on the word of God, we are truly on the solid foundation of the rock to be able to solve problems.

Ron Brown:

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We must ask ourselves what is most important. The normative church needs to do a few things very well rather than trying to do a lot of mediocre things.

"The normative church must do a few things very well instead of trying to do a lot of mediocre things." - Ron Brownclick to tweet

So we must look at scripture and ask: What are the priorities that God has given the church that are absolutely necessary? So we must ask: What is God doing in our church? Who did he give us? What gifts has he given our people? Do we allow people to use these gifts in a way that allows them to flourish? We can't do everything. What should we do?

I want to shift gears and think about the future. Think about the recruiting we used to do before the pandemic and what we've done so far. Will it get a little easier or a little harder to recruit people to the normative church as we go?

Brian Gass:

The biggest challenge I see there is the generational challenge. The younger generation has a different view of the church and what the church does and does not add to their lives. There is certainly less sense of duty involved in church and finding the place to connect.

You don't want people who stay there with a job just because they've always worn that mantle. But when they commit, they're all in.

So I took the pressure off myself for things to continue to exist. They need not continue to exist as they are. God can create a new thing, and that means an old thing may have to die.

What final words of encouragement or advice would you give to someone recruiting leaders in a normative church?

Cris Johnson:

Know what God has called you to do and get to know your people and community. Don't be discouraged. Just continue. Do not stop. There will be some twists and turns along the way, but stay true. Hold on.

Brian Gass:

In that sense, everything does not depend on you. Your shoulders are not broad enough to carry the church. It is the church of Jesus, and revival is always just a breath of the Holy Spirit away. So we ask for it.

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"Your shoulders are not broad enough to carry the church. It is the church of Jesus, and revival is always just a breath of the Holy Spirit away." —Brian Gassclick to tweet

Tod Tanner:

Make sure you don't get into the comparison game. Jesus recruited 12. He formed 11. And focused on three. And we are still learning from these three today. He was not necessarily a pastor in a mega-church. For the normative church pastor, know that God has called him there and is using him in tremendous ways.

Ron Brown:

Preach the gospel for yourself. Remember that God's acceptance of you is not based on how much you do or how successful you feel. Keep your eyes on Christ and what He has done. It is important for me to remind myself that success lies in my faithfulness to Christ and bringing Him glory.

For permission to republish this article, send an email toMarissa Postell Sullivan.

How Normative Size Church Pastors Recruit Leaders - Life Path Research (3)

E Braddy


Ken is Sunday school director for Lifeway, advocate for religious groups, and author of several books, includingBringing Sunday School to life.

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