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My heart was warmed as I read this. I also wondered how does encouragements to work hard fit with this (i.e. "run in such a way as to win the prize..."). Also, this may be tangential, but I wondered how many of you are fans of John Eldridge's "Wild at Heart"?
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Dave, I remember you mentioning this idea in passing during a talk you gave at one of the first summits. At the time I wondered if you were just making peace with your church not growing or if there really was some magical size limitation for a "Stage 4" church (I leaned toward the second just based upon it coming from you). My only hesitancy to totally believing it is that, from my tiny experience, growing a church beyond it's current state seems to almost always involve a ton of trail and error and real risk. The bigger the church is, the more difficult it may be to take real risk and to experiment with new ideas. So maybe it's just me being a youngish man, but I want to push back a bit and say, "that's b.s. maaan, if Jesus is really good for every single person out there, if he really wants to be in a relationship with everyone, then let's not settle for anything less!, let's reach every single person in the city!, let's have a church of millions!, let's risk it all over and over again, and if you're not growing, that means your not risking!" But let me go down the other road now. Bill's musings about splitting up churches has been an interesting idea for me the past 6 months or so. For one I've been hearing little bits about how, in the Vineyard, we are having a difficult time finding leaders to take over for pastors reaching retirement age in churches of 800 or more (and most certainly of a church of 10,000 i.e. Columbus). That makes sense to me. Maybe the way to being equipped to lead a 1,000 people is through leading a lot less people and seeing that group grow to that size. Leader a ministry or a church that's a lot smaller can't translate. So what are we to do about that. How about sending out church plants of 100 or more people? Lots of young leaders can lead a 100 people and that size would make planting a church a lot easier then a smaller team (or no team) would be. And then that young leader can grow into a leader that can lead a lot more. If that worked, then I think that the sending church would probably of middle size (300-800). I don't think it's a coincidence that it is said of John Wimber that his goal was to be a pastor of 400 people. At this stage of the game for me, I feel like that would be quick satisfying (but I guess you pastors of larger churches wouldn't feel the same). But that's not really a Blue Ocean argument is it? Well maybe it would be helpful to look at the Brethren's "Circle of Hope" churches in the Philly area. They determined that they want the size of their churches to be around 400 - I think because of your pitch about relationship has a size limit Bill - and when they reach that they start a new church nearby. They now have 4 of such churches ( They certainly have a structured/bounded-setish way about them (cell groups and such), but from what I can tell, they also lean hippy (which is probably why I'm attracted to them), which I think gives them a sense of Blue Oceany looseness. The 4 churches also still work together which I think allows them to do the 'for our whole city' type stuff that you were saying is important Dave. So I guess I'm thinking that the perfect Blue Ocean Church size is 400 (sorry bigger churches though that means I don't consider my 125 people church perfect either). What do you think?
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Oct 19, 2011