Discover four obstacles to church growth and tips to overcome them.
I’m no church growth guru with a magic wand. My last name isn’t Chan, nor does it rhyme with Schmatterson (I love you Mark Batterson). I’m an Associate Pastor at a LifeChurch.tv campus in the state closest to what heaven will be like (Yes, Texas. Uh…go Rangers). I’m a SIMPLE dude serving a BIG God with a SOLD OUT group of people that are passionate about seeing their city changed.
OK, so enough about not having all the answers. Here are 4 Reasons Your Church Isn’t Growing Like It Should Be:
1. You don’t know your sweet spot. You aren’t the church down the road. You aren’t Saddleback or New Spring. You are _____ (fill in the blank). God has called you, Pastor A, to lead Church B and Leaders C, D, E and P, to influence Community Z. You have a set of strengths or gifts and so do all the key leaders and everyone else in your organization. God has given your church a specific calling, a sweet spot. Question is, have you really tapped into it? Figure out your sweet spot. Get in your zone. Clarify your calling. Then go and do your thang like no one else! Once you get in this zone, you can say NO to the softball league you loathe, NO to the fruitcake baking ministry you are average at, and YES to whatever is it the good Lord has created you to do.
Tip: As you begin to clarify & develop your sweet spot, don’t just write it out on Saturday and tell everyone what it is on Sunday. Develop a shared vision that everyone can own and go after it!
2. You are not personally inviting people. Seriously, you are one of the key leaders in your church. If you are not living, breathing and (dare I say….no I won’t say it, but it rhymes with hooping) inviting people, the rest of your crew isn’t going to invite people either. People are smart and they know when you aren’t smoking what you are selling! I try to invite someone to my church every single day. I know that sounds crazy, but I promise I’m not annoying about it. I don’t do it every day, but I am genuinely interested in the people that I engage with in the community. I’m aware of their need for other people and more importantly their need for a God that is nuts about them, regardless of their messed up lives! Every day I am looking for the hurting, the messed over, and the broken. I don’t always invite every single person to church, but I’m trying and I’m praying for change in the community. I believe this- if the ones I invite will just come check it out, their lives could be drastically changed forever! Do you believe the same about your church? What will it take to get you there and get you inviting people??
Tip: I carry invite cards everywhere I go- in my car, in my borderline girly man bag satchel, everywhere. I always have a story to retell about how scared I was to invite this guy or how nervous I was to talk to that couple. I’m pretty sure people from my church hear about the stories and are challenged to do the same thing. Heck, even if they don’t, I’m inviting a lot of people!
3. You aren’t ready for the growth. Deep down, you know that because you aren’t yet in your sweet spot (reminder: by this I mean that your church doesn’t know what it is uniquely positioned, called and expected by God to BE and DO), you really aren’t ready to see the real growth you know you should be seeing. It’s like in the eighties when people put patches on blue jean jackets. How silly would it be to put the best patches on a jacket that doesn’t even fit (especially if it was a Beastie Boys patch)?? Yeah, that would be silly! In the same way that you wouldn’t put cool patches on your 80′s jacket, you can grow if your church isn’t ready for growth! You’ve got to know who you are as an organization AND be comfortable in your own skin. Side note- I think the 80s reference is a bad example, but I couldn’t resist!
A better example would be the parable of the talents (Matthew 25). Simply put, the faithful servants were given more! Pretty simple, right? I know this isn’t exclusively a church growth principle, but I’d put money that the truth applies here. Why would God give you more people if your church isn’t being faithful with the ones you have? Why would God send a HUGE influx of new people if you are hoarding everything to yourself as a leader and not empowering able and called people, other than yourself to minister, lead, guide and develop others? Just think on that for a moment. Marinate on it even… then go get ready to grow!
Tip: I’m not suggesting that just because you aren’t growing doesn’t mean you haven’t been faithful. I don’t know your situation and don’t know your heart. I would challenge you to ask, “Are people at your church ready for the growth or is it still just about them?” If people still think it is all about them, you are in for a long, uphill battle. Sometimes you need to separate the men from the boys before you kick everyone’s rears into gear (go back and study Gideon in Judges). Develop the right people, get the right vision, get it inside of you and go for it!
4. People don’t have clear “Next Steps” to take. The buzz of your cool (or not so cool) band will wear off after awhile. People need a place to belong and they need to know what is a good Next Step for their life as a follower of Christ. New believers need clear Next Steps. People that have gifts to use need clear Next Steps to know how to use those gifts. Those that are leaders need to know how to be empowered and released to lead others. Those that don’t have healthy relationships with other believers need to know how to find those relationships.
Next Steps don’t have to be programs. They don’t have to be a 1, 2, 3 ministry. However, they do need to be simple and intuitive. If someone has to jump through 18 hoops to get in a small group, they are probably going to give up after hoop number 5 or 6. Make it clear, make it simple. Everyone has a place in the body of Christ!
Tip: Challenge EVERYONE to take a Next Step in their faith. For some, it may be as simple as picking up a Bible. For others, it may be restoring a broken relationship. If ALL people are not always taking some type of Next Step in their faith life, it is highly unlikely that they will continue to be a sold out, kingdom building, church growing, follower of Christ!
What are the most common personal challenges for church leaders when their church just isn’t growing the way it should be? Love to hear you thoughts in the comments below!