The Myth of the 200 Barrier: How to Lead Through Transitional Growth

by Kevin E. Martin. Abingdon Press, 2005.

More than one clergy person has remarked, “We get to 200 then the next year we are back down to 160 in worship. Why is this happening?” There is something about the 200 barrier. This book takes some of the magical thinking away from the “why.” The author, Kevin Martin, uses organizational development observations to demystify the size barrier between what is known as a pastor centered congregation and a program centered congregation. Martin is the retired Dean of the Cathedral Church of St. Matthew in Dallas Texas. He is serving on the 2020 taskforce of the Episcopal Church. Martin offers a variety of helpful observations. For instance, average weekend attendance is a better indicator of participation for Protestant congregations than membership. Also, the large congregation is not a small congregation that has simply grown. It is an entirely different system. Some of the information is dated (for example, the book concentrates on boomers rather than millennials). Yet, the information can help leaders understand the change in thinking and the change in behavior that is required to ask more than Why? regarding congregational growth.