Why is My Church NOT Growing?

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Do people visit your church but end up not staying?

Here is an example of a common question I receive:

My church is not growing. People come, but they do not stay. We’ve analyzed all the majors and feel we are doing what we should, but they do not stay. Any thoughts please?

I receive something similar almost weekly. I wish I had answers every time. I don’t. Most of the time I know they can’t afford a consultant (or don’t think they can, but should consider the investment), so I try to give them a few suggestions, in the limited time I have, to think through their issues.

Here is an expanded version of my typical answer:

It’s hard to diagnose here without more information. I do believe God wants the church to grow. We are to make disciples, and part of discipleship is make more disciples. That in and of itself is growth.

A few quick comments first:

God is in charge of the numbers.

People can disagree with me (and do) when I say I believe healthy churches are growing. Some grow in different ways. Some internally and some by raising up people who go outside the church to make disciples. Regardless of how growth occurs, all of us must agree God is ultimately in control.

The Holy Spirt grows people and therefore the church.

We aren’t without responsibility in doing our part. We’ve been given an assignment to be a body with many parts, but we don’t ultimately grow people or churches.

Churches go through seasons, just as individual believers do.

There are seasons we grow more than others and seasons we are simply maturing to grow later.

There are no cookie cutter answers.

Just as God makes people unique, churches are unique because they are comprised of unique people.

With those clarifications, here are a few quick thoughts to help you discern your particular situation:

Ron Edmondson Ron Edmondson is a pastor and church leader passionate about planting churches, helping established churches thrive, and assisting pastors and those in ministry think through leadership, strategy and life. Ron has over 20 years business experience, mostly as a self-employed business owner, and he's been helping church grow vocationally for over 10 years.

More from Ron Edmondson or visit Ron at http://www.ronedmondson.com/

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  • Hellomynameis

    Hi. I clicked on the ad for the free Grace Sermon series listed at the bottom of the article. What a disappointment. There are 7 sermons in the series and the “FREE series on GRACE” that is sent to you only includes the first three… Instead of advertising a “FREE series on GRACE”, I think it would have been better to advertise “THREE sermons on GRACE.” Note to the advertiser—I understand the ad is meant to serve as a bait for a series of products, but imagine your disappointment if you received a notice for a “FREE church van for your ministry” and when you accepted the offer by agreeing to receive from the manufacturer countless contact calls in the future about their products, they delivered to you a partially built van and then offered to sell you the engine, tires, interior seats, etc. to complete the van… Just a thought.

    • Chad W

      I absolutely agree with your point. But I’m afraid your point and concern will go unnoticed since this is a discuss thread for this blog article. If you go to the bottom of the page and on the bottom banner click on “Contact Us” you will be able to contact Church Leaders directly and share you concern.

  • RJF

    I’m pretty surprised at the responses given here. There were no references to how the Lord Jesus grew the universal church and local churches by the Spirit and through the disciples in the book of Acts. Nor were there any references to prayer. Nor were there any references to 1 Cor. 3:6-7 — “I planted, Apollos watered, but God causes the growth. So then neither is he who plants anything nor he who waters, but God causes the growth.”
    Instead, the responses sounded similar to advice I would give to a small business owner about why people don’t buy what he’s selling. Unfortunate, that the response to a question about how God causes HIS church to grow actually had nothing to do with God.

  • http://NewSmallChurch.com/ Karl Vaters

    Great post, Ron! So many posts on this subject tend to pile the guilt on pastors by assuming that they and their churches are committing errors, without knowing the specifics of the church. This post addresses the issue directly with helpful advice and none of the guilt. I’ll be passing this advice to others.

  • disqus_I9J1Z0Cbgm

    Why dont you read a book called the restless church, you will find Biblical answers to your questions re the church.