Rev. Lyle E. Schaller, a popular pastor and church consultant who gave practical advice on how congregations can grow and thrive, has died at the age of 91.
From the New York Times obituary,
Armed with research and anecdotal evidence, Mr. Schaller offered churches advice on matters ranging from the spiritual to the mundane, recommending, for example, that they provide more restrooms or off-street parking. He once described music as the most divisive church issue, suggesting that pastors deliver the same sermon at separate services, one with classical music for more traditional congregants and another with a more clangorous and secular accompaniment, to draw a younger crowd.
Warren Bird, research director of the Leadership Network, which advises large congregations, recalled on the organization’s website a conclave of pastors at which one minister described Mr. Schaller as “George Gallup without the numbers, having an uncanny pulse on what churches are like.” Another called him the church version of Peter Drucker, the management guru.
“More recently United Methodist pastor Charles Anderson likened Schaller to today’s social media. ‘For me, reading or listening to Schaller is like a precursor to Twitter: Schaller could always deliver profound ideas and predictions in 140 characters or less, ” Mr. Bird said.