Schaller, The Very Large Church

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Lyle E. Schaller, The Very Large Church: New Rules for Leaders. Abingdon, 2000.

Referenced in: Church Leadership – Size Dynamics and Transitions

LifeandLeadership Summary

Schaller is one of the most prolific authors in the field of church leadership, and if he has written a book on a subject, it usually makes sense to read it. Few understand congregations better, especially in offering insights into to new trends. The Very Large Church is a standard source for understanding very large congregations (751-1,800 attendance) and Megachurches (1,801 plus attendance). He discusses how the trend toward larger institutions (not limited to churches) and the consequences of consumerism have changed the rules about churunderscore the importance of large congregations in the advancement of the kingdom in the third millennium. Schaller presents incredible insight into leadership roles, succession plans, and various points of large-church vulnerability. He also addresses reservations and questions such as the place of the poor in the mega-church movement, the effect of large churches on building Christian community, and the unique assets of larger congregations. With this text, Schaller has written Large Church 101.

From the Publisher

One of the most crucial changes in North American life, Lyle E. Schaller explains, has been the shift from small to large institutions. Sixty years ago one-teacher, one-room schoolhouses still abounded, and the average number of students in all American schools was one hundred. Now new construction on elementary schools is often for facilities that will accommodate more than twelve hundred students, and average school size is over six hundred. Similar changes have happened in several other branches of American life.

These changes, Schaller contends, mean that the rules have changed for everyone involved in organization life. Very large churches-megachurches-will increasingly come to embody the new rule-book for congregations. Extending their mission far beyond a single local neighborhood, they will draw large numbers of visitors, helping them move from skeptics or seekers to believers to learners to disciples to apostles, and move them progressively.

The Very Large Church was written for those congregational leaders, both volunteer and paid staff, who recognize that their old rule-book is obsolete and who are eager to learn how to participate effectively in the very large church in a context that is defined by the culture, the societal context, clearly defined expectations, a theological belief system, a passion for evangelism, a high level of competence, creativity, innovation, and a new and different set of rules, rather than by local traditions, geographical boundaries, or yesterday’s stereotypes.

Key Features:

  • Focuses on issues in organization life-Schaller’s strong suit
  • Addresses a tendency that is growing today

Key Benefits:

  • Places the shift to large churches within the context of a cultural shift from small to large institutions
  • Demonstrates how and why the old rule-book for organizational structure must change
  • Helps church leaders understand how to make the transition to the megachurch culture while retaining Christian integrity

About the Author

Lyle E. Schaller is the most widely read and respected writer on congregational life today. He is the author of dozens of books on congregational life and vitality.

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