Lead Balloon on Multiple Congregations

When The Briefing  was being published by Matthais Media in the 90’s, there was a regular section called the “lead balloon”. It was called this because it contained an idea that was so solid you could not put a hole in it but it was so impractical that it could not work. Here is my lead balloon on multiple congregations.  Your church is growing and it’s time to expand, what do you do?

If you have a church that has more than one congregation (and I realise this is a debated issue) how do you break them up? 

It seems to me that the most popular is to break them up over time and demographics. I.e. You have a morning service for the oldies and then a family service for younger families.  At night there is a youth service. Or some variation to that effect. 

Another way to do it is to have congregations reaching different people geographically. You start a church to reach the people in a particular neighbourhood and where there are regions where different neighbourhoods are very different this can be very effective. 

So here’s my lead balloon: why not break up congregations based on maturity? As a preacher there is lot of different audiences you are trying to reach all at the same time from the walk in who knowledge nothing to the person who had been sitting there for years and needs to be challenged to give up their life for Jesus.  While it is the gospel that changes people it is not easy to do. I recently watched a preacher from a church that was great with new people. But watching him preach, if I did not have some Biblical knowledge I would be competeky lost.  

So why wouldn’t you break a Church up around maturity?  Here is why you wouldn’t do it and my responses.

  1. How do you measure maturity and where people would go?  You don’t. You let them self select. Those who are new go to X, those who want to get pushed go to Z and everyone else goes to Y. It’s up to them to decide how they are going and therefore where they are going. 
  2. What about people from different congregations seeing maturity in others?  Firstly, I think this is a problem with first model anyway. Secondly, it doesn’t have to mean that there is no interaction at all ( see below).  
  3. Wouldn’t this cause elitism?  Possibly but it really depends on how it is done, as with many of these things the devil is in how you do it. 

Let me explain this a little more by explaining where I got the idea from: my Tae-Kwon Do class. Usually each night there is a focus: kicking or punching or blocking, etc. But we were often broken into three groups: lower belts (white and yellow), middle (blue and red) and upper belts (cho-bo and black). Lowers work on the basics, middle: refine and uppers: perfect.  But part of martial arts is the ability to pass on your knowledge to others so at times the uppers teach the middles and other times the middle teach the lowers. 

Imagine this in discipleship. Being able to preach the same passage but being able to dig into the application differently according to the maturity of your congregation. And having a system of discipleship across the church. 

Does this mean you have three different times in the same place or three different locations at the same time? No idea but it would be interesting to see!

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