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.
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.
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?