McIntosh, One Size Doesn’t Fit All

Share this:

Gary McIntosh, One Size Doesn’t Fit All: Bringing Out the Best in Any Size Church. Revell, 1999.

Referenced in: Church Leadership – Size Dynamics and Transitions

LifeandLeadership Summary

While this volume has been significantly updated in McIntosh’s Taking Your Church to the Next Level, there is still value in this classic text. He discusses the numerical progression from church sizes of smaller (15-200), to midsized (201-400), to large (401+). One may rightly argue that there are more divisions or “church size typologies” within each of these three broad ranges, especially as it relates to small churches. This potential overgeneralization is perhaps the chief weakness of McIntosh’s volume, but this does not detract from its valuer.

The chief contribution of One Size Doesn’t Fit All is the “Typology of Church Sizes,” perhaps the most thorough charts/comparisons between the three types of churches to be found. He draws this comparison by answering these probing questions regarding each:

  • What is the church’s orientation – small, medium, or large?
  • How is the church structured – single, stretched, or multiple cell?
  • Who sets the direction – key families, committees, or leaders?
  • What is the pastor’s role – lover, administrator, or leader?
  • How are decisions made – congregations, committees, or leaders?
  • What is the impact of staff – bivocational/single, pastor/small staff, or multiple staff?
  • How does change take place – bottom up, middle out, or top down?
  • How do churches grow – attractional relationships, program/ministry, or proclamation?
  • What are the obstacles to and strategies for growth? These are unique to each size

McIntosh operates on the assumption that churches either grow, plateau, or decline, and he advocates growth. If one buys into these assumptions, this book offers very helpful advice for moving to a new stage. It is written in the style of a mentoring conversation between a younger and less experienced pastor and a more experienced pastor.

From the Publisher

Framed as a discussion between a pastor six months out of seminary and a veteran pastor, this book tackles the issues of how churches grow and how church size determines effective strategy for ministry. The pastors’ Saturday morning dialogues reveal ten areas that will help readers understand their own church’s psychology, addressing questions such as:

  • How do churches grow?
  • How does change take place?
  • What is the church’s orientation?
  • How is the church structured?
  • Who sets the direction?
  • What is the pastor’s role?

This is a vital resource for any new pastor, church planter, or lay leader concerned about his or her local church. Each chapter concludes with a Taking It Home segment.

Editorial Reviews

Gary McIntosh has done it again with his book entitled, One Size Doesn’t Fit All. For whatever reason, most pastors dream and pray towards seeing their ministry grow in influence and numbers. There is nothing wrong with that. At best a small church is a distant cousin of the larger ministry. While sharing some things in common, their diversity must be understood if their ministry is going to realize all that God intended it to be. “What’s good for the goose is not always good for the gander.” Dr. McIntosh has the ability to analyze the similarities and differences, surface the important differentiating factors and communicate them effectively to the broader church public. I believe Dr. McIntosh’s book will encourage the churches regardless of their size to accept their limitations of their demographics and build solidly on those principles and practices that address their specific individual needs. One Size Doesn’t Fit All will encourage, break the complacency of others, and hopefully refocus churches on the realities of their mission accepting both its limitations and potential. Each size ministry has its unique opportunities and its consistent problems. What works on a size C ministry may not be effective at all in a size A ministry. Dr. McIntosh’s insights and analytical abilities enable him to surface for us those non-negotiable that must be in place if a ministry of any size is going to be blessed. Building on the non-negotiable are the unique characteristics of the individual church of whatever category. — Joe Aldrich, president emeritus, Multnomah Bible College and Biblical Seminary

Nobody knows the organizational structure and social dynamics of the church better than my friend Dr. Gary McIntosh. I highly recommend this insightful book, which will enlighten your understanding of the critical differences that exist between various sized churches and how they function. — Dr. Neil T. Anderson, president and founder, Freedom in Christ Ministries

Reading this book and gleaning its insights into the churchs orientation, structure, direction, growth, and so forth will save the so-called experienced pastor as well as the new pastor much frustration and pain in leading and ministering more effectively in the local church. — Aubrey Malphurs, professor, Dallas Seminary and President of Vision Ministries International

The church is one of the most important institutions in our society today. In a world that’s changing so fast, we need a little help in making sure the church stays on course. Gary McIntoshs new book One Size Doesn’t Fit All is helpful to the small or large church trying to grow. This easy to read parable will help us bring out the best in our churches, no matter what their size. — Ken Blanchard, coauthor of The One Minute Manager

About the Author

Dr. Gary L. McIntosh is a nationally known author, speaker, educator, consultant. He is president of the Church Growth Network and professor of Christian ministry and leadership at Talbot School of Theology, Biola University, located in La Mirada, California. He has written extensively in the field of pastoral ministry, leadership, generational studies, and church growth. Dr. McIntosh received his B.A. from Colorado Christian University in biblical studies, an M.Div. from Western C.B. Seminary in pastoral studies, and a D.Min. from Fuller Theological Seminary in church growth studies. As president of The McIntosh Church Growth Network, a church consulting firm he founded in 1989, Dr. McIntosh has served over 500 churches in 53 denominations throughout the United States and Canada. The 1995 and 1996 president of the American Society for Church Growth, he edits both the Church Growth Network newsletter and the Journal of the American Society for Church Growth.

***For additional information on this resource, including reviews, click the bookstore links. Check the reference at page top or the links below for resource guides on related topics.***

See Resources on Over 100 Areas of Ministry Leadership: