The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


The best of both worlds?

Midsize congregations

At their best, the ELCA’s midsize churches seem to meld the strongest traits of all congregational worlds. They’re not quite like Cheers­—that is, maybe not everybody knows your name—but they tend toward a friendly feel that’s at least close to that. And compared to their smaller counterparts, medium-big churches tend to have the cash and volunteers necessary to serve their communities on a variety of fronts.

One of the luxuries of being a midsize
One of the luxuries of being a midsize congregation is a larger volunteer base and the financial resources for extra staff. Above are the contemporary worship service musicians at Grace Lutheran Church, Corvallis, Ore.: Cellen Coakley (left), Anne Smith, Tom Kiersky, Dave Lundahl and Angie Gallagher.
But the exact traits the midsize congregation counts as strengths can also pop up as weaknesses.

“A professor I had in college called them ‘asset/liabilities,’ ” said Brian J. Middleswarth, an associate in ministry at First Lutheran, Cedar Rapids, Iowa, one of the larger midsize churches with an average attendance of 750.

Take cash flow, for example.

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