Churches can be described by the way the Discipleship System links people together with their leaders.

Section 2. Smaller and Larger Churches


A. Church size depends on the linking relationship between the “crowd” and a leadership core and upon the span of control in the leadership core.[1] Churches can be described by the way the Discipleship System links people together with their leaders. These linkages identify the network which controls all activities of the church outside of worship.

B. In a small church, each person in the crowd is directly linked by a relationship to someone in the leadership core. This limits the growth of the small church as only two layers are allowed: core and crowd. When the span of control is six, there can be one pastor, up to six leaders and thirty-six followers for a total of forty-three. When the span of control is twelve, as Jesus chose, there can be one pastor, up to twelve core leaders and 144 followers for a maximum total of 157. A competency limit is often reached beyond this total.[2]





[1] The quote is a selection from David O. Kueker’s Fuller Seminary Doctor of Ministry project submitted in September, 2007, entitled Diagnosis, Dialogue, and Decision: A Threefold Process of Revitalization For the Illinois Great Rivers Conference.
It is shared here in recognition of its 12th Anniversary along with comments to update and provide perspective on the material. The original project was a Training Manual/Study Guide of three Seminars supported by three chapters of research and an Introduction. The material is available for download at In 2009 it was provided for purchase as a softcover book entitled Designing Discipleship Systems: Christian Disciple Making For Any Size Church, Any Theology through

[2][3] [4][5] [6][7] [8]

All Scripture quotations are from the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright © 1946, 1952, and 1971 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Please review the page How and Why We Use Quotes.

[1]For information on the role of the leadership core, cf. Miller, NextChurch.Now, 79-100.

[2]For information on competency limit of the Rule of 150, see Kevin Martin, The Myth of the 200 Barrier: How to Lead through Transitional Growth (Nashville: Cokesbury, 2005), 39-42.

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