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Plumb Lines: Leaders Like it Big Most Like it Small

This post is part of series called Plumb Lines where Larry Osborne shares guidelines on how articulating certain “ministry plumb lines” can make decision making a snap, and can make sure that teams are in alignment with the greater mission. To start this series from the beginning, go to the Plumb Lines Intro post.

Larry shares his thoughts on the next plumb line, Leaders Like it Big, Most Like it Small below.

Okay, today I want to continue our discussion of this thing called plumb lines, these “rules of the road” that define corporate culture for you as a leader and for the people that you are leading, and the people that are just a part of your church and your ministry. Another example that has been helpful for us is the idea that leaders like it big, most people like it small.

And I think it’s pretty obvious if you stop and think about it. Most people want to be in something that’s big enough to be significant, but not so large that they feel lost. They will go to an event periodically, but they will go to something that’s in a smaller size on a regular basis. And so at North Coast that little plumb line has been a guiding light for us.

It’s part of why we moved in and we’re so involved in the beginning of the “video venue movement” and all that. It’s because we didn’t want to build a massive building because we knew the only people…remember leaders like it big, most people like it small…The only people who wished we had a sanctuary we could fill with 6,000 people two or three times, are those of us that are speakers and our worship bands. Because we would feel so cool. There’s nothing like that energy in front of you.

But I want to tell you, almost everybody I know, including myself if I’m not on stage, I’d rather be in a room with 600, 800, maybe 1200 at the most, than in a stadium of 3000, 6000, or more. Leaders like it big, most people like it small. And once we realize that was a truth that fit our culture, and we articulated it as a plumb line that we were going to live by, all kinds of programming decisions became a snap.

It’s one of the reasons that we have so many services here at North Coast Church. It’s one of the reasons we have all kinds of venues on our various campuses. And why we have so many campuses. Because leaders like it big, but most people like it small. And again, if you’re a leader, I bet you’re a lot like me. You love it big when you’re on stage, but you don’t want it so big when you’re off that stage.

So, what is your plumb line in terms of how you want to develop your programs and the size that you’re aiming for? Are you aiming for excitement? Are you aiming for something that fits what your people are looking for?

Wait a minute, wait a minute. I just thought of an example I’d forgotten about of leaders liking it big, and most people liking it small.

Years ago, before video venues, we used to have two Saturday night services. Neither one was all that full. One was a little over 50%, maybe 60%, and the other one was barely pushing 50%. So compared to all our other services, the energy wasn’t quite what it needed to be, at least for those of us up on stage. For a variety of reasons, we combined those two services. And I remember the next staff meeting that we had. Everybody was so excited about that previous Saturday night. Worship was off the charts. The preaching, man, whatever you said, people were into. Even all the jokes they thought were hilariously funny. The energy in the room was amazing. And so I just let the staff talk about how excited they were about this new format and how everything was great. And then I pulled out the numbers. And I said I do hope you realize we had 120 people less this weekend than we had the other weekends.

You see, leaders always judge it by the energy. But we need to judge it by the number of sheep that God is allowing us to minister to. Leaders like it big, but most people like it small.

This video is part of the Plumb Lines series available for free on YouTube, To watch the video, click below.