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Are you having trouble figuring out which days to come to the Bishop’s Leadership Conference? You can use this guide to help discern the size of your congregation.

Why is it hard to tell about size?

The definition for size categories that we are using for this conference are based on a combination of Average Sunday Attendance (ASA) and organizational behaviors. This is different from your congregation’s “grade,” which is based on other factors like budget and number of pledging units. You may notice that there is some overlap on sizes – this is because a congregation with 80 people may behave like a small church, or it may behave like a medium size church, depending on patterns of communication, staffing structure, and other factors. Use the guide below to discern what size your congregation is right now, and then register your team to start on that day of the conference and stay for the following day.

Your congregation might be very small if:

  • You have an ASA of 50 people or less;
  • Everyone in the church knows everyone else;
  • You have part-time or supply clergy, or you have a Total Common Ministry Circle, or no regular clergy person;
  • Most of your Christian formation and ministry activities are led by lay members of the congregation, as is the responsibility for all governance and building maintenance;
  • You tend to communicate using word of mouth and gather spontaneously; or
  • You don’t need more than a day or two to plan a church event and get everybody together.

If you congregation is very small, register to arrive on Monday.

Your congregation might be small if:

  • You have an ASA of 40-100;
  • Most people know each other, or at least recognize each other’s faces;
  • You have one part-time clergy person, or you have a full-time person, but it is a struggle to fund the position each year;
  • Lay members work together with a part-time clergy person to coordinate most Christian formation and ministry activities, and lay members take responsibility for governance and building maintenance;
  • People mostly communicate through word of mouth, but you also have a newsletter, e-newsletter, or Facebook page that keeps people in the loop; or
  • You can plan church events by making a few calls, just looking a month or two ahead.

If your congregation is small, register to arrive on Tuesday.

Your congregation might be middle sized if:

  • You have an ASA of 75-200;
  • You have a full-time clergy person and a full program (children’s ministry, adult formation, neighborhood ministries);
  • The clergy person knows everyone, or almost everyone, who attends, but nobody else knows everyone;
  • Lay members share responsibility for governance and building maintenance with clergy. Clergy or staff lead much of the full program offerings – Christian formation, etc.;
  • There are subgroups within the congregation who use word of mouth to communicate, but people rely on the newsletter, e-news, or social media for broad information about what is going on at church; or
  • You tend to plan the church calendar several months out at a time – by the time June hits you are already working on fall programming and communication plans.

If your congregation is middle sized, register to arrive on Wednesday.

Your congregation might be moderately large if:

  • You have an ASA of 150-400;
  • You have more than one full-time clergy person, as well as full-time program staff for other ministry areas such as Children’s Ministry, Communications, Youth Ministry, etc.;
  • There is no one person who knows every person who attends;
  • There are many formal structures that manage the governance, building maintenance, and ministries of the church;
  • Most people get information about church activities through written communication: newsletter, email, or social media. You may even have formal written communication within broad sub-groups such as families with children or people who are part of small groups; or
  • You use very formal planning processes with a lot of lead time to manage and book the church calendar of events.

If your congregation is moderately large, register to arrive on Thursday.

Your congregation might be very large if:

  • You have an ASA of 350 or more;
  • You have a comprehensive program with multiple specialized staff: several full-time clergy who specialize in different areas, and other staff who cover specific ministry areas such as youth, or children, or young adults;
  • When your congregation needs data about itself, formal research methods such as surveys and consultants are used;
  • Most people get information about church events through a wide variety of formal communication methods – some church-wide and others designed for specific subgroups and ministries; or
  • You use formal planning processes, research, and sometimes even consultative aid to vision, plan, calendar, and book events for your church.

If your congregation is very large, register to arrive on Thursday.

What Size is My Church: The Bishop’s Leadership Conference 2021

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