7 Leadership Paradigms Needed for Church Growth

I speak with churches every week who want to grow again, but nothing they do seems to work. I have heard people say it’s often a vision problem. It could be, but I think they are likely other reasons.

In fact, the church – although it may not be living it – actually has the clearest, best defined vision of anyone. We are to “Go and make disciples”.

There are obvious problems in these churches – for example, most aren’t really doing anything new. They do the same things they’ve always done, maybe tweaking some minor aspect, but for all practical purposes, it’s the same.

But, honestly, in my opinion, these are not the primary reasons for a lack of growth. 

I have learned if you want to have a culture susceptible and open to growth, there are some common paradigms necessary. You have to think certain ways. In most every situation, an absence of certain actions or mindsets on the part of leaders keeps the church from moving forward.
What are some of those paradigms?

Here are 7 paradigms needed for church growth:

Lead with leaders

Of course you need followers too, but most people are looking for leadership, especially about things about which they don’t know. In any group, you’ll have a few who are ready to move forward with the changes needed and a few who are opposed to any change you bring. The rest of the people are looking for leadership. Lead with those who are ready to move in a positive direction.

Prioritize your time

You can’t do everything or be everywhere. Let me say it again. You can’t do everything or be everywhere. This doesn’t ignore the expectation placed on you as a leader, but it does recognize your limitations. By the way, the quickest way to burnout and ineffectiveness is to ignore this one.

Never waste energy

When something is working, put fuel into it. All cylinders go. It makes sense, right? Momentum feeds momentum. Yes, in keeping the previous one this means you’ll have to ignore a few things to do the very best things. But, usually the most energy will be in a few key places at a time. Never fail to capitalize on those important moments in time.

Embrace change

You have to live in the tension of change if you want to experience growth. Change is never popular with everyone, but when you resist it, you are resisting the opportunity to grow. More of the same may be comfortable, but it seldom produces the excitement necessary for growth.

Make hard decisions

Don’t be naive. Growth brings change. Change brings momentum. And as exciting as that can be not everyone will be excited about it. If you are going to achieve the vision you’ll have to be willing to stand the test of time. It won’t be easy. With some decisions you make you’ll be choosing who buys into the vision and who doesn’t. Be willing to make the hard decisions and you’ll keep the church open to idea of growth.

Build healthy teams

You can’t do it alone. You can probably control a church which is not growing. You can control people who don’t think for themselves. But, if you want to grow, especially grow long-term, you’ll need to surround yourself with healthy people who build a healthy team environment – and let other people share leadership.

Refuel often

I find the more we are growing and the more change is occurring, the more I have to get away and gain perspective. Renew. Recharge. Sometimes even re-engage. I can’t lead for growth if I’m drowning in the demands of the present.

By no means am I attempting to take God’s presence out of church growth. Ultimately church growth – as is every aspect of spiritual growth – is from the hand of God. But, two things appear clear to me in the Bible. God uses His people to do His work. And, God wants His church to penetrate culture with the hope of the Gospel. I simply believe He uses both of those together. In a day of increasing darkness, we need to be smarter church leaders. We need growing churches.

I don’t know believe this is an exclusive list, but i hope it’s is a good start. Perhaps the right way to process this post is to ask yourself a question – Which of these are we missing?

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21 thoughts on “7 Leadership Paradigms Needed for Church Growth

  1. One suggestion I would add is don't be intimidated by other leaders in your inner circle. Many times leaders feel they have to be in control of everything and everything has to go their way. It's good to have leaders on your team who aren't "YES" man and have good ideas to implement. The more you delegate, the more you can get done.

  2. Refueling often cannot be emphasized enough. When you spend so much time pouring into others and casting vision, you simply must stop from time to time to be refreshed. Great post.

  3. Great Post Ron! The one thing I've noticed as I grow in my walk with the Lord and as I continue growing in my professional walk… we have very few leaders, some followers, and many complainers. In order for the Church to grow; business to grow; community to grow; family to grow… it takes those willing to step up and become a "servant leader." One needs to learn how to follow before they can learn how to lead others. The perfect example is Christ… now that's a leader, a true servant leader! As always, love your posts. Take care brother!

  4. Refueling often is a great point, that I'm afraid most of us think about but seldom do. But, if you think about it – if you don't refuel and lead your self, where are you going to lead others? If the engine runs out of coal, the rest of the train isn't going very far and there will be a lot of unused track ahead.

    Good thoughts Ron.

  5. ( in my notes from some conference somewhere) Real growth involves reaching full potential, not maximum size. It happens when old dominating ideas are challenged, and new ones displace them. Growth means progress, not excess; it is fueled by imagination, not expansion.

  6. Prioritize your time, Never Wast Energy and Make the Hard Decisions could easily fall into the topic of focus. In ministry it can be very hard to say no. No is one of those hard decisions we have to make to make sure we stay focused in the right areas. Just because it is a good idea or our most faithful member came up with it, means we should do it.

  7. Great post, Ron. I needed to hear 'ignore a few things to do the very best things.' That is a very liberating (and important) concept. Too much time and talent is wasted on 'the minors.' Thanks for the Monday morning wake-up call!