Providing Pastoral Care in Growing Church Plants

When pastoral care must come from someone other than the pastor

Many church plants start out small. This can be a great benefit but can also cause trepidation in some guests who aren’t comfortable with the family atmosphere. However the goal of your church plant is likely to grow and reach more people for Christ. So, how can you prepare your congregation for pastoral care that doesn’t always come directly from the pastor?

THE PROS AND CONS OF BEING A SMALL CHURCH

If your church is under 75 people, everyone knows everyone. It eliminates the ability for someone to try out your church anonymously. This is a problem you cannot avoid. Instead, embrace who you are as a smaller church. You will lose some people who just aren’t comfortable being in that small environment. But you will also have some people who are looking for that environment. Be cautious about overemphasizing the value of a small church if you expect your church to grow in the future. Emphasize that this small church environment is a great blessing in this first season of your church plant.

BREAKING THROUGH SIZE BARRIERS

The launch large methodology suggests that breaking the 125 barrier at launch makes you a volunteer-centric church. The church is not pastor-centric, so you aren’t the hub of the wheel that has to run everything. When the church is larger, systems are more necessary in the provision of pastoral care. When you move to the 125–200 barrier your congregation has to move from being led by a shepherd to being led by a rancher. You congregation will still have a great level of pastoral care, but instead of that coming from one person, it will be more of a sense of all members taking care of each other.

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RAISING UP LEADERS

As you provide pastoral care in a small church, bring someone with you every time. This sows the seeds of moving to a culture that is not pastor-centric but where it is a church filled with people who all take care of one another. The pastor in a large church cannot bear everyone’s burdens, but instead healthy systems should be put in place that allow the church to flourish without the pastor doing everything on his own. Ultimately this is a biblical view of pastoral care.

Adapted from the New Churches Q&A Podcast Episode 403: What Does Pastoral Care Look Like as a Church Grows. Click here to listen to more to church planting, multisite, and multiplication tips.