Like the middle child, medium-sized churches often don’t get a lot of attention. They don’t have the big, flashy programs of the mega church. They don’t have the hand-to-mouth financial struggles of the small church. They just go about their business on Sundays and throughout the week, doing their best to grow believers and share Christ in their communities.
So, what makes volunteers in the medium church (101-350 attendance in worship) different?
For one thing, these volunteers tend to be steady. (Not all of them, of course, but more often than not.) They know that people are counting on them, but they don’t have grandiose plans to wow the world.
There are enough levels of leadership in a medium church for leaders to rise up and yet not be in over their heads. It’s small enough that leadership flaws, when they exist, are not fatal.
Members in conflict, at least to a certain level, can co-exist under the same roof in the medium church. On the Up side, people can simply avoid those with whom they disagree. On the Down side, though, conflict may fester and remain unresolved.
Where one or two volunteers could handle something in a small church, most projects or programs need more staffing (or funding) in a medium church. It’s common for the medium church to take on more than its volunteer base can actually run.
Good / Great
Volunteers can be excellent, but they don’t have to be professionals — especially those with technical skills and in the area of worship arts.
In a medium church, volunteers can get locked into tradition. Maybe it’s because the status quo is working, and there is no apparent reason to risk it. But medium churches actually have more opportunities to experiment — they are neither a small rowboat that sinks easily nor an ocean liner that is difficult to turn.
In Part 2 on medium churches, we’ll look at the relationship between volunteers and staff (especially the pastor). Volunteers in a medium church need challenges so that they don’t become mindless sheep. The pastor and other staff members have a significant role to play in casting the vision and gathering resources for volunteers to fulfill their potential. But that comes with a price that is often overlooked.