The Breakthrough Thinking Required in Growing Your Church

The world needs the influence of the church more than ever before. And, at least in Western culture, the church faces many significant struggles as it seeks to influence its surrounding culture.

The solution, at its root, is to plant, grow, and build as many healthy, vibrant local churches possible — churches that believe and teach the biblical Good News about Jesus.

In other words, the growth of the church is for the good of the entire world, so your church needs to grow!

But how?

There are plenty of answers in terms of systems and methodologies, models and approaches. But before we go about the reshaping of the structure or ministry of a church, we first need to experience a change in our mindset.

You must develop an unshakable conviction about growth.

An opinion is something you’ll argue about; a conviction is something you’ll die for.

You need to settle the issue that God wants his church to grow. All living things grow. If a church is alive, it grows. Growing a healthy church is hard work, and unless you clarify your convictions, you’re going to be tempted to give up.

You have to develop this conviction because:

  • God commands growth. He did so through the Great Commission.
  • People demand it. The world is desperately looking for an authoritative message in a humble personality. That combination is irresistible.

You must change the primary role of the pastor from minister to leader.

What’s the difference? In leadership, you take the initiative; in ministry, you respond to the needs of others.

When someone calls and you pick up the phone, that’s ministry. When you pick up the phone and call someone, that’s leadership. Typically, you learn ministry skills in seminary, but you learn leadership skills in seminars.

Pastoring is a balance. Here are five skills you must learn if your church is going to grow:

  • Learn to communicate your vision.
  • Learn the ability to motivate through messages.
  • Learn how to equip for ministry. If you don’t learn how to coach, you will not be able to equip. And if you do not equip, you will burn out in ministry.
  • Learn how to raise money. Those who write the agenda must also be able to underwrite it.
  • Learn the skill of managing your time and energy.

You must organize around the gifts of your people.

In the New Testament, there isn’t a clear, thorough organizational pattern provided for the church.

It doesn’t tell us how to organize the church or give us job descriptions for deacons or elders. Why did God leave the structure so vague? So that it could fit in every culture and every age.

You must build your church around the gifted people God has already given you. Whatever God wants your church to do at this moment, the talent is already there.

All of this amounts to believing that the church should grow, that the pastor should lead its growth, and that every member is responsible to carry out the ministry that grows it.

The world needs us to do this now more than ever!

> Read more from Rick.


 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rick Warren

Rick Warren

Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., one of America's largest and most influential churches. Rick is author of the New York Times bestseller The Purpose Driven Life. His book, The Purpose Driven Church, was named one of the 100 Christian books that changed the 20th century. He is also founder of Pastors.com, a global Internet community for pastors.

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COMMENTS

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Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> Thanks, this is interesting and helps the preacher to navigate and plan is goals and objectives during difficult seasons and changing times
 
— Paul B Thomas (@Pentecostaltv)
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Christinah Facing the dilema in church planting has just given me sleepless nights with headache in this small town in Swaziland Southern Africa. The model we used is not working. People around are shunning our services. I do not feel like quitting, but some of my team members are discouraged now.
 
— Tau Kutloano Christinah
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I have found out more. I guess it's all about backing? ReNew doesn't have that. We are a mission church, in a small downtown area. We are a wonderful church though. I guess we also needed everyone to attend and possibly be of service all the time. If I could have it all over to again, I'd participate more, open my mouth more,....IDK, I still am holding onto God's intervention somehow. We have until Sept. 30th.
 
— Linda Speaks
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

These Kinds of Slow Growth are Actually Healthier

Every church has a pace built into the culture of its people. Some churches move more slowly. Some move more quickly. While most established churches likely need to pick up the pace, a slow pace does not necessarily mean the church is complacent.

Complacent churches are self-satisfied and are unwilling to address problems. Unfortunately, far too many churches are complacent. But don’t confuse complacency with a slow pace. Some congregations are willing to move forward; it just takes them a little longer. A few factors may influence the slow pace of a church.

The community may move at a slower pace. The church is simply reflecting the greater culture of the community. For example, rural communities tend to change less quickly. A church that moves too quickly in a slow-moving farming community may actually become less relevant.

A slow pace may point to stability, not entrenchment. It’s hard to move rapidly and also be stable. Slow-moving stability can be better for some church cultures. The downside of this pattern is it can create ruts of entrenchment, but it doesn’t have to be the case. When used strategically, stability can advance discipleship, sacrificial giving, and equipping—none of which point to complacency.

Leaders may guide the church methodically. Not every leader is designed to push forward with intensity. Not every church needs a hard-charging pastor full of ambition and ideas. Some church leaders plod thoughtfully, with intention and strategy. Plodding leaders are not complacent leaders.

The season of a church may necessitate a slower pace. When a church needs to heal, it almost always needs to slow down. A church may go through months, if not years, of a slower pace. This intentional slowdown may be the opposite of complacency. It could be the problem is the fast pace.

Passion is not always fast. Restoring an antique car takes time. It’s a painstaking process. The slowness of the restoration process is a sign of passion, not complacency or apathy. The same principle applies to the church. Pastors who revitalize churches may move slowly, but it’s an indicator of their passion and love for the church, not a mark of complacency.

Don’t make the mistake of assuming all slow-moving churches are complacent. In fact, many established churches require plodding leaders who are willing to take the time to revitalize them. These pastors are passionate, not complacent.

> Read more from Sam.


 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sam Rainer III

Sam serves as lead pastor of West Bradenton Baptist Church. He is also the president of Rainer Research, and he is the co-founder/co-owner of Rainer Publishing. His desire is to provide answers for better church health. Sam is author of the book, Obstacles in the Established Church, and the co-author of the book, Essential Church. He is an editorial advisor/contributor at Church Executive magazine. He has also served as a consulting editor at Outreach magazine. He has written over 150 articles on church health for numerous publications, and he is a frequent conference speaker. Before submitting to the call of ministry, Sam worked in a procurement consulting role for Fortune 1000 companies. Sam holds a B.S. in Finance and Marketing from the University of South Carolina, an M.A. in Missiology from Southern Seminary, and a Ph.D. in Leadership Studies at Dallas Baptist University.

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COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> Thanks, this is interesting and helps the preacher to navigate and plan is goals and objectives during difficult seasons and changing times
 
— Paul B Thomas (@Pentecostaltv)
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Christinah Facing the dilema in church planting has just given me sleepless nights with headache in this small town in Swaziland Southern Africa. The model we used is not working. People around are shunning our services. I do not feel like quitting, but some of my team members are discouraged now.
 
— Tau Kutloano Christinah
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I have found out more. I guess it's all about backing? ReNew doesn't have that. We are a mission church, in a small downtown area. We are a wonderful church though. I guess we also needed everyone to attend and possibly be of service all the time. If I could have it all over to again, I'd participate more, open my mouth more,....IDK, I still am holding onto God's intervention somehow. We have until Sept. 30th.
 
— Linda Speaks
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Your Attendance is Declining: Here is One Big Idea to Keep in Mind

If you track attendance at your church (and who doesn’t), the vast majority of church leaders are tracking numbers that probably bother them.

That can lead into a death spiral of trying to drive greater attendance, only to discover more disappointment down the road.

The mission of the church is the same in every generation. But the methods we use—our strategy—has to change, as I outlined here.

So what’s one of the biggest changes we’re going to see?

Simple. If you want to see your church grow, stop trying to attract people and start trying to engage people.

In the future church, engagement is the new attendance.

If church leaders put as much effort into trying to engage people in the mission of the church as they used to (or still) put into trying to drive attendance, they would see a huge spike in both engagement and attendance.

Conversely, leaders who focused solely on attendance or misconstrue what engagement is will continue to see declining attendance.

At Connexus Church, where I serve as Founding and Teaching pastor, we’re seeing encouraging spikes in physical and online attendance (the two are not mutually exclusive) at established locations, our online campus and our new location.

The growth in the number of new unchurched people has come for sure by the grace of God, but also after almost five years of focusing on increasing engagement in these 7 ways. I also outlined why we made the shift and many people have made the shift in my book, Lasting Impact.

Church leaders, if you cared as much about engagement as you did about attendance, you’d likely see a spike in attendance as your mission grows and expands.

So why is engagement the new attendance?

Here are 5 reasons.

1. Attendance Was Never The Goal

When did we get the idea that church attendance was the ultimate goal?

Flip back to New Testament days.

Jesus never said ‘Attend me.’ He said ‘Follow me.’

The only reason you would follow Jesus (in Jesus’ day) is because you were either intrigued by who he was and what he did, or because you had come to believe that he was who he said he was.

In other words, you were engaged.

You didn’t attend Jesus. You followed him.

A similar dynamic emerged in the first-century church.

Early Christians didn’t attend church. They were the church.

If you look back at the genesis of the Jesus movement, the idea of attendance as a hallmark would have been completely foreign.

You only attended because you were engaged. Period.

2. Attendance Grows Out Of Engagement Anyway

As the Christian movement grew and it became the official religion of the Roman Empire, mere church ‘attendance’ became an option.

Fast forward to our lifetime, and even in growing, effective churches,  attendance had become an established path to engagement.

The big idea was this: come, and eventually you’ll get engaged.

That worked (quite effectively, actually) when people used to flock to church.

But in an era when the number of unchurched is constantly on the rise and even Christians don’t attend church as often anymore (here are 10 reasons for that), that strategy is becoming less and less effective.

Yet, many churches (even growing churches) are still counting on getting people to attend, hoping it drives engagement.

The shelf life of that strategy is limited because the number of people who want to attend church drops every year.

To say it clearly one more time, in the future church attendance won’t drive engagement; engagement will drive attendance.

The new gooal is to get people engaged faster and to engage people more deeply in the true mission of the church.

In the future, the engaged will attend because, in large measure, only the engaged will remain.

3. Trying To Attract People In A Post-Christian Culture Can Work Against The Mission

I am all for making church as attractive and accessible as possible.

But in the future if that’s your only approach (better lights, cooler vibe, hoping people will come), you will get diminishing results. (I wrote on the death and rebirth of cool church here.)

Why is that?

Well, as outlined above, when attendance was more normative and in some senses ‘automatic’ in our culture, attraction was a decent strategy.

Because people would go to church, creating a better church was a good approach.

But (and here’s the underbelly), it also fed into consumerism.

Consumerism has defined the last century of North American and Western culture.

To some extent, the attractional church has played into consumerism. Build something attractive and people will come.

Again, that strategy was very effective when people instinctively flocked to churches, not just in terms of numbers, but also in terms of baptisms and authentic faith-building. And you shouldn’t make your church inaccessible or unattractive on purpose. That’s just…weird.

But in the process, building attractive, relevant churches has had an unintended side-effect: people have come to evaluate church by what they get out of it, not by what they put into it.

That’s a mistake.

Along the way, discipleship has even been redefined in many circles to mean consumption of knowledge. The more you know, the more mature you are. I believe that’s a flawed approach (here’s why).

Authentic discipleship has always been about dying to self.  It’s about giving far more than it is about getting.

Again, I’m not slamming the attractional church. I’m all for building bridges to the culture, not erecting barriers.

Anyone who knows church knows that at the heart of every attractional church is a core of Christians who sacrifice—who give, who serve and who invite.

What’s exciting is that selflessness will move to the forefront in the future church because those who remain will be engaged in the mission.

4. Our Culture Is Ripe For An Alternative To Consuming

One of the frequent criticisms non-Christians levy at Christians is that we’re self-indulgent and hypocritical.

Those critiques are not without warrant.

As a more selfless church emerges (even excellent, selfless churches), that will drive more curiosity and interest from unchurched people.

While you can debate what Millennials really want out of life, there appears to be a growing attraction in our culture to rebel against consumerism,

People are longing for an alternative to life as they know it. The church is that alternative.

In the future church, Christians obsessed with giving away their lives will eclipse Christians obsessed with themselves and their preferences.

5. People Become The Most Passionate About The Things With Which They’re Most Involved

A final reason that engagement will drive future church growth is simply this: people become most passionate about the things with which they’re most involved.

Just talk to a football dad or a baseball mom. Or your foodie friend who just found yet another recipe. Or your triathlete friend who set another personal best.

Engagement fuels involvement. Involvement fuels passion. Passion fuels invitation.

That’s why your friend wants you to try that recipe, to watch the game with them and at least attempt a 5k.

Engagement leads to invitation. Invitation leads to unchurched people following Jesus.

In many ways, this can only be a good thing.

> Read more from Carey.


 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Carey Nieuwhof

Carey Nieuwhof

Carey Nieuwhof is lead pastor of Connexus Community Church and author of the best selling books, Leading Change Without Losing It and Parenting Beyond Your Capacity. Carey speaks to North American and global church leaders about change, leadership, and parenting.

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COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> Thanks, this is interesting and helps the preacher to navigate and plan is goals and objectives during difficult seasons and changing times
 
— Paul B Thomas (@Pentecostaltv)
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Christinah Facing the dilema in church planting has just given me sleepless nights with headache in this small town in Swaziland Southern Africa. The model we used is not working. People around are shunning our services. I do not feel like quitting, but some of my team members are discouraged now.
 
— Tau Kutloano Christinah
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I have found out more. I guess it's all about backing? ReNew doesn't have that. We are a mission church, in a small downtown area. We are a wonderful church though. I guess we also needed everyone to attend and possibly be of service all the time. If I could have it all over to again, I'd participate more, open my mouth more,....IDK, I still am holding onto God's intervention somehow. We have until Sept. 30th.
 
— Linda Speaks
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

These Seven Things Are Keeping Your Church from Growing

The number one topic in the local church over the last 30 plus years addresses the question, “How do I grow my church?” How can we break through to reach more people for Jesus?

The words change, but the issue remains the same. Years ago, we called them growth barriers, and now the question sounds more like “How do I get unstuck? How can we get unstuck to reach more people?

There was about a decade when we switched from church growth to church health, but it always comes back to growth. The reason for that is that healthy things grow!

There is nothing new under the sun, right? But it’s up to us to remain fresh, relevant and innovate our way forward for the sake of the Kingdom.

With that as context, here are some “fresh” thoughts for today.

Seven Big Barriers:

(with insights for growth)

1) Diminished faith

It’s possible for church leaders to stop believing. I’m not referring to faith in Jesus, but the potential for a pastor, staff member or key leader to lose faith that their church will ever work.

It’s all too common that a leader can lose heart and slide into discouragement. This is the enemy’s strategy!  Discouragement is the breeding ground for complacency and maintenance. As a leader, you may remain faithful, but without any fire.

Vision is then lost. Whether the senior pastor, a children’s staff member, or a small group leader, etc., when the leader loses vision, it’s not long before growth slows or stops.

Fight for your faith. Fight to believe again. Who do you know that believes in you? Get some time with them. Borrow their faith in you. Reflect back on when you believed in yourself, and remember that God is with you. It’s His Church, it’s His idea, and what you’re doing matters.

2) Ministry over Strategy

Those of us who lead in the local church are in it to see life change for the people we serve. Therefore, serving people for their spiritual growth is a priority, it’s what we do. But doing ministry for the sake of ministry can be a colossal waste of time if it’s not strategic.

The goal of ministry is not to be busy; it’s to realize a Kingdom productivity that results in changed lives for eternity. For too many years I’ve watched church pastors, staff and volunteer leaders exhaust themselves with little results.

The selection of your ministries must be strategic, not random. Your ministries should be lean and on purpose, not merely at the whim of anyone’s ideas. Alignment as a team is essential.

(And we know strategy without God’s power doesn’t work.)

3) Inward focused

Inward focus is like a subtle bear trap. Of course, there is nothing subtle about a bear trap, except that it’s hidden. It’s not obvious. But when you realize you are caught in one, you then know you’re in big trouble.

No church starts out inward focused. A church turns inward from a good thing gone bad. Community, love, care, discipleship, family, etc., these are all great things and part of the healthy and functioning body of Christ. Until essentially, they become the sole focus of the church.

The result is evangelism drops off, programming becomes all about what the Christians want for themselves, and the worship service begins to cater only to those in the body of Christ.

The scary thing is that all churches drift in that direction. All churches drift inward without the intentional effort to keep an outward focus on those who are far from God. It’s not easy, but it is that simple.

The leaders of the church must agree and align with a ministry that intentionally commits time, resources, effort and energy to reach out.

4) Programs over people

Programs over people can become a reality in a church of any size, but this tends to be a more common barrier in larger and mega-churches. It’s not intentional, in fact, it comes from the natural pressure to bring excellence to programming.

Ministry program excellence is important, but we can’t let it crowd out love and care for individual people.

Program over people shows up in little things that are important things. Such as phone calls not being returned, it becomes difficult to volunteer, and the systems for next steps are complicated.

There is no perfect solution here. It’s impossible for very large churches to give large amounts of time to everyone. The most important thing we can do, however, is to give genuine individualized care to as many as we can. That helps ignite the culture so that this caring attitude has a way of continuing amongst the people.

5) Slipping from relevance

Change is essential. The message of Jesus never changes but our methods, style, and approach must always adapt to the needs of the current culture.

In more extreme cases, when entering an outdated church environment, it’s like walking into a time warp. It causes those who visit to question if the leadership understands how to navigate current culture.

There has never been a greater time or higher need for innovation in the church. From digital opportunities to new approaches in church planting,

Talk with people who don’t attend church and brainstorm new ideas. It might be technology, your worship service, or your kid’s ministry, etc. What needs to be done to remain salt and light in your community?

6) Underdeveloped leaders

Without more and better leaders, your church can’t continue to grow.

If your vision is big and bold, it requires more leaders to help realize that vision. These leaders need to be developed and empowered.

Your leaders need continued training, development and encouragement to keep rising to their potential as well as remain aligned with the vision of the church.

Here are a couple of posts that will help you develop your leaders:

  1. Develop Your Leaders
  2. Empower Your Leaders

7) Jesus is sidelined in all the busyness

At a theological level, it’s impossible for Jesus to be sidelined in any way.

15 The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy.

Colossians 1:15-18

And yet, it’s true that a church can become so busy with people, processes, programs, problems, etc. that Jesus is no longer the recognized head of the body and the established supremacy. When this happens, certainly unintentionally, we lose the Holy Spirit’s power that is needed for true spiritual change and subsequent growth.

Jesus must always be lifted up!

> Read more from Dan.


 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dan Reiland

Dan Reiland

Dr. Dan Reiland serves as Executive Pastor at 12Stone Church in Lawrenceville, Georgia. He previously partnered with John Maxwell for 20 years, first as Executive Pastor at Skyline Wesleyan Church in San Diego, then as Vice President of Leadership and Church Development at INJOY. He and Dr. Maxwell still enjoy partnering on a number of church related projects together. Dan is best known as a leader with a pastor's heart, but is often described as one of the nations most innovative church thinkers. His passion is developing leaders for the local church so that the Great Commission is advanced.

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COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> Thanks, this is interesting and helps the preacher to navigate and plan is goals and objectives during difficult seasons and changing times
 
— Paul B Thomas (@Pentecostaltv)
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Christinah Facing the dilema in church planting has just given me sleepless nights with headache in this small town in Swaziland Southern Africa. The model we used is not working. People around are shunning our services. I do not feel like quitting, but some of my team members are discouraged now.
 
— Tau Kutloano Christinah
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I have found out more. I guess it's all about backing? ReNew doesn't have that. We are a mission church, in a small downtown area. We are a wonderful church though. I guess we also needed everyone to attend and possibly be of service all the time. If I could have it all over to again, I'd participate more, open my mouth more,....IDK, I still am holding onto God's intervention somehow. We have until Sept. 30th.
 
— Linda Speaks
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Five Challenges to Healthy Church Growth

Every year another two million American adults become less receptive to the gospel, and less receptive to churches.

Every year.

That is one of the nuggets I took from the Pew Research work on the “Nones” when they first released the data in 2012. Pew has continued to follow the religious commitment level of Americans. From 2007 to 2014, over 12 million American adults have moved from a high level of religious commitment to a low level of commitment. They just skipped the medium level of commitment altogether.

Cultural Christianity is dying.

One no longer has to be a Christian or in a church to be accepted by society. That relatively easy pool of prospective attendees for our churches is disappearing.

But most churches keep doing what they’ve always done.

As a consequence, they are reaching fewer. They are declining.

Why?

The answer to that question is too complex for a simple blog post, but let me provide five high-level responses for now.

  1. Church members are not being intentionally relational with those who are not in church. The old way of church outreach was more transactional; today it requires the development of relationships. Most church members will not take that step. Many don’t know how to take that step.
  2. Many churches are stuck in the past. While we never compromise the gospel and the Word, our methodologies must reflect an awareness of our culture, and a willingness to be missionaries to that culture. Sadly, too many church members are unwilling to make changes. Church, for them, is about their needs and their preferences.
  3. Church members are not regularly inviting people to church. Yes, it can be that simple. Many of the religiously unaffiliated will come to church if we invite them. But it’s difficult for them to respond to an invitation if they never get one.
  4. Many church members fail to act like Christians on social media. Unbelievers are watching us on Facebook and Twitter. And many of us are more likely to show our rear ends than Christian love. Social media is where the unchurched reside. And they constantly see our petty quarrels, our venomous politics, and our self-serving attitudes. Look at this blog post about what non-Christians think about us. I wrote it in 2013, but the comments still come in from unbelievers.
  5. If they come to church, they only have a mediocre experience. The religiously unaffiliated do visit our churches from time to time. But, more often than not, they see our holy huddles and our lukewarm greetings. Most will not return.

Growth is indeed more difficult in most of our churches today. We no longer have the large pool of cultural Christians from which to draw. But we can reach them. We must reach them.

We will have to treat our membership in our churches as missionaries to the community instead of country club membership. Biblical membership is not about getting our perks, privileges, and preferences. It’s about sacrificing self for the gospel.

Then, and only then, will we see our churches start growing again.


Knowing how to grow a church shouldn’t be a mystery. But the busyness of ministry, combined with the clutter of church growth ideas, leaves many pastors with more questions than answers. As a result, progress is slow, people are scattered, and the work of ministry feels less meaningful than you thought it would. Connect with an Auxano Navigator to learn more about a process that leads to growth.


> Read more from Thom.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Thom Rainer

Thom Rainer

Thom Rainer is the president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources.  Prior to LifeWay, he served at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary for twelve years where he was the founding dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions and Evangelism.  He is a 1977 graduate of the University of Alabama and earned his Master of Divinity and Ph.D. degrees from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. In addition to speaking in hundreds of venues over the past 20 years, Rainer led Rainer Group, a church and denominational consulting firm, from 1990 to 2005. The firm provided church health insights to over 500 churches and other organizations over that period. Rainer and his wife, Nellie Jo, have three grown sons: Sam, Art and Jess, who are married to Erin, Sarah and Rachel respectively.  The Rainers have six grandchildren: Canon, Maggie, Nathaniel, Will (with the Lord), Harper, and Bren. He is the author of twenty-four books, including Breakout Churches, Simple Life, Simple Church, Raising Dad, The Millennials, and Essential Church.  His latest book, Autopsy of a Deceased Church, was released in 2014 by B&H Publishing Group.

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COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> Thanks, this is interesting and helps the preacher to navigate and plan is goals and objectives during difficult seasons and changing times
 
— Paul B Thomas (@Pentecostaltv)
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Christinah Facing the dilema in church planting has just given me sleepless nights with headache in this small town in Swaziland Southern Africa. The model we used is not working. People around are shunning our services. I do not feel like quitting, but some of my team members are discouraged now.
 
— Tau Kutloano Christinah
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I have found out more. I guess it's all about backing? ReNew doesn't have that. We are a mission church, in a small downtown area. We are a wonderful church though. I guess we also needed everyone to attend and possibly be of service all the time. If I could have it all over to again, I'd participate more, open my mouth more,....IDK, I still am holding onto God's intervention somehow. We have until Sept. 30th.
 
— Linda Speaks
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

How to Grow a Healthy Church

You know when a church is not healthy as an organization. You will identify things like:

  • Poor communication
  • Low morale
  • High conflict
  • Limited results
  • Foggy Vision

We know that healthy organizations reflect the opposite kind of list.

So far, this is not complicated.

But building a healthy organization is a challenging and complex task, that requires enormous effort and fierce focus.

The key to any healthy organization is based on the foundation of two things held in a cooperative tension.

  1. The senior leadership wakes up every day thinking about what’s best for the team.
  1. The team wakes up every day thinking about what’s best for the organization.

This is easy to comprehend and very difficult to achieve. There’s an obvious unspoken tension here. I’ll get to that in a minute.

But first, please absorb this same principle again, but this time in reverse. The tension becomes very clear.

  1. If the senior leadership wakes up every day, focusing only on the good of the organization, (hit the numbers, success at all costs, staff are expendable, etc.) the staff won’t want to stay there very long.
  1. If the team wakes up every day, focusing only on what’s good for them, (what do I get?, what will you do for me today?, make my load lighter, etc.) the senior leadership won’t want them to stay very long.

The tension is obvious.

And this is why healthy organizations, including churches, are rarer than we would expect.

The tension held in these two principles only works when based on trust, and fails when either one attempts to take more than it gives.

I’ve never seen an organization pull this off without tremendous effort and commitment.

Here’s what it looks like to accomplish healthy organizational results, acknowledging the need to tend to both sides of the equation.

  1. The senior leaders invest tremendous effort and energy into thinking about how to invest in, care for, and develop the staff. While at the same time, paying fierce attention to their fiduciary responsibilities to lead the organization well.
  1. The team invests tremendous effort and energy into producing mission-focused results for the organization. While at the same time, paying attention to their own needs, dreams, and desires.

You can see why I call this a “cooperative tension.” The minute cooperation and trust breakdown, this doesn’t work, and organizational health begins to erode.

It’s a lot like a marriage.

It’s easy to repeat the vows, and hard to live them out.

If a husband devotes himself to serve his wife, and his wife devotes herself to serve the husband – guaranteed marital bliss! Piece of cake, right?! Of course not, it’s extremely challenging and takes tons of work and commitment.

If you wake up asking “What’s in it for me?” and “What do I get?”, your marriage will be, at best, a disappointing relationship.

Leadership in your church, especially among the staff and key leaders, is much the same.

So, if you are the senior pastor or on the senior/executive staff, how hard do you work to make sure the team is taken care of, while you lead the organization well?

If you are on the team, how hard do you work to deliver results that help the organization (church) make progress, while you remain honest about your own dreams and desires?

The powerful truth is that you get to decide how healthy your organization becomes.

It’s up to you.


Want to know more about developing a healthy organization? Connect with an Auxano Navigator.


> Read more from Dan.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dan Reiland

Dan Reiland

Dr. Dan Reiland serves as Executive Pastor at 12Stone Church in Lawrenceville, Georgia. He previously partnered with John Maxwell for 20 years, first as Executive Pastor at Skyline Wesleyan Church in San Diego, then as Vice President of Leadership and Church Development at INJOY. He and Dr. Maxwell still enjoy partnering on a number of church related projects together. Dan is best known as a leader with a pastor's heart, but is often described as one of the nations most innovative church thinkers. His passion is developing leaders for the local church so that the Great Commission is advanced.

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Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> Thanks, this is interesting and helps the preacher to navigate and plan is goals and objectives during difficult seasons and changing times
 
— Paul B Thomas (@Pentecostaltv)
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Christinah Facing the dilema in church planting has just given me sleepless nights with headache in this small town in Swaziland Southern Africa. The model we used is not working. People around are shunning our services. I do not feel like quitting, but some of my team members are discouraged now.
 
— Tau Kutloano Christinah
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I have found out more. I guess it's all about backing? ReNew doesn't have that. We are a mission church, in a small downtown area. We are a wonderful church though. I guess we also needed everyone to attend and possibly be of service all the time. If I could have it all over to again, I'd participate more, open my mouth more,....IDK, I still am holding onto God's intervention somehow. We have until Sept. 30th.
 
— Linda Speaks
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

10 Steps You Know You Should Be Taking to Grow Your Church – But Aren’t

What if I gave you a list of ten things that any church could do that would bring almost immediate renewal and growth?

Would you be interested in the list?

Most would be.

So here it is:

  1. Simplify your structure by putting the authority to make most decisions related to the practice of ministry in the hands of those with responsibility. Translation: let your leaders lead.
  2. Hire young, platform young, program young. Why? You attract who you platform, and most churches are growing old.
  3. Become more contemporary in terms of music and graphics, décor and topics, website and signage. It’s 2015. Really. You can check.
  4. Stop preaching and start communicating. There’s a difference.
  5. Shift the outreach focus away from the already convinced toward those who are not. It’s called the Great Commission.
  6. Prioritize your children’s ministry in terms of money and staffing, square footage and resources. Do you really not know, after all this time, that the children’s ministry is your most important ministry for outreach and growth?
  7. It’s the weekend, stupid.”
  8. Help everyone find their spiritual gifts and then help them channel those gifts toward ministry.
  9. Target men. Get the man, you tend to get the family.
  10. Proclaim the full counsel of God without compromise or dilution. All you get with a watered-down message is a watered-down church. And a watered-down church has nothing to offer the world it does not already have.

Now, what if I told you that the vast majority of churches already know this list. Not only do they know the list, they would agree with most if not all of it.

But they refuse to act on it.

It’s true.

And the reason tends to be the same, in church after church, around the world: they don’t want to change.

Which brings up another list.

It’s the list of the seven last words of the church:

“We never did it that way before.”

> Read more from James Emery White.


 Would you like to know more how to take steps to help your church grow? Connect with an Auxano Navigator and start a conversation with our team.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

James Emery White

James Emery White

James Emery White is the founding and senior pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church in Charlotte, NC, and the ranked adjunctive professor of theology and culture at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, which he also served as their fourth president. He is the founder of Serious Times and this blog was originally posted at his website www.churchandculture.org.

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Josh — 05/02/17 4:21 am

Every home descriminates towards the young. That is how healthy families work :)

Willie Harper — 12/28/15 5:29 pm

It's not about growing a church its about getting people truly saved. our yes or the gospel is so weak today because we are not telling sharing complete truth. I don't need to know about building a church that's God's job. We all need to come together and face the facts of truth concerning salvation but nobody is interested everyone have their own little safety net and satisfied with fragmented truth. I'm sick of the church world and all of its philosophical theology that opposed complete truth. Jesus is coming soon and that will settle it all one lord one faith one baptism. Acts 2:38-47. That's how the church began and steel should be today but men have changed it and the church world suffers

Marcos — 12/09/15 7:28 pm

Niiiice. Intentional age discrimination at church.

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> Thanks, this is interesting and helps the preacher to navigate and plan is goals and objectives during difficult seasons and changing times
 
— Paul B Thomas (@Pentecostaltv)
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Christinah Facing the dilema in church planting has just given me sleepless nights with headache in this small town in Swaziland Southern Africa. The model we used is not working. People around are shunning our services. I do not feel like quitting, but some of my team members are discouraged now.
 
— Tau Kutloano Christinah
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I have found out more. I guess it's all about backing? ReNew doesn't have that. We are a mission church, in a small downtown area. We are a wonderful church though. I guess we also needed everyone to attend and possibly be of service all the time. If I could have it all over to again, I'd participate more, open my mouth more,....IDK, I still am holding onto God's intervention somehow. We have until Sept. 30th.
 
— Linda Speaks
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Why Your Church Should Think Twice Before Going Multi-Site

The multi-site revolution is the biggest thing to happen to the broader church movement in my almost 20 years of ministry. I’ve personally been involved in the launch of 12 campuses—working on 2 more as we speak!—and I’ve coached a bunch of other leaders through the process.I’ve written a lot on the multi-site movement and I’m genuinely a fan of this approach to multiplication.

However, you might want to think twice before attempting this approach to multiplication at your church. Avoid going multi-site if the following applies to your church:

  • You want to spur growth. // Going multi-site takes whatever is presently happening at your church and magnifies it. If your church is in decline, going multi-site won’t turn that around … it will probably push it further into decline. Take time to uncover why your church isn’t growing and focus on that before making the step towards multi-site. First nail it … then scale it.
  • Empty seats at prime time. // When was the last time your “prime time” service was packed to the roof? A building bursting with people provides the relational dynamics needed when casting vision for launching your services. Years ago, I heard an early multi-site pioneer say that if you didn’t have 7 weekend services at your original campus, you shouldn’t go multi-site. Although that is extreme, the core idea is correct. If you don’t have full services, it’s difficult to convince people to head to a new location.
  • Fuzziness on why people invite friends. // When launching your first campus, you’ll need to decide what to export to the new location. If there isn’t organizational clarity on what is most important, it will be difficult to make that transition smoothly. It doesn’t matter as much what leaders think needs to be exported—it matters what people in the church think is great about your church. Work hard to replicate that well.
  • Leaders who don’t build systems. // There are some church leaders who look down on documentation and repeatable processes because they see them as less spiritual. Those leaders have a harder time making the transition to multi-site because the entire ministry is built on systems. You need people in your leadership who can care for people through structuring a nurturing environment and not just by meeting one on one with people. Leaders need to be able to scale their influence through building a systematic approach to ministry
  • Ego-driven leaders. // If you are the sort of leader who needs to get credit for everything that happens, don’t go multi-site. If you are the sort of leader who needs every team to look to you for direction and answers, multi-site is not for you. One of the great paradoxes of multi-site is that it is often criticized because it elevates a few leaders over a larger number of communities. My experience is that leaders who thrive in multi-site are people who can empower, defer and encourage a wide variety of leaders. They give up control to allow their ministry to multiply. Think hard before you make this step: Are you willing to draw in other leaders and release the ministry over to them?

As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts on why churches should avoid going multi-site! Join the discussion in the comments section below.

> Read more from Rich.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rich Birch

Rich Birch

Thanks so much for dropping by unseminary … I hope that your able to find some resources that help you lead your church better in the coming days! I’ve been involved in church leadership for over 15 years. Early on I had the privilege of leading in one of the very first multisite churches in North Amerca. I led the charge in helping The Meeting House in Toronto to become the leading multi-site church in Canada with over 4,000 people in 6 locations. (Today they are 13 locations with somewhere over 5,000 people attending.) In addition, I served on the leadership team of Connexus Community Church in Ontario, a North Point Community Church Strategic Partner. I currently serves as Operations Pastor at Liquid Church in the Manhattan facing suburbs of New Jersey. I have a dual vocational background that uniquely positions me for serving churches to multiply impact. While in the marketplace, I founded a dot-com with two partners in the late 90’s that worked to increase value for media firms and internet service providers. I’m married to Christine and we live in Scotch Plains, NJ with their two children and one dog.

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Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> Thanks, this is interesting and helps the preacher to navigate and plan is goals and objectives during difficult seasons and changing times
 
— Paul B Thomas (@Pentecostaltv)
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Christinah Facing the dilema in church planting has just given me sleepless nights with headache in this small town in Swaziland Southern Africa. The model we used is not working. People around are shunning our services. I do not feel like quitting, but some of my team members are discouraged now.
 
— Tau Kutloano Christinah
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I have found out more. I guess it's all about backing? ReNew doesn't have that. We are a mission church, in a small downtown area. We are a wonderful church though. I guess we also needed everyone to attend and possibly be of service all the time. If I could have it all over to again, I'd participate more, open my mouth more,....IDK, I still am holding onto God's intervention somehow. We have until Sept. 30th.
 
— Linda Speaks
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

5 Lessons Our Family Vegetable Garden Taught Me About Nurturing Growth in Church

Our family project for the summer revolved around the first-ever backyard garden. Neither my wife nor I profess to have a green thumb, in fact we can kill aloe plants in our family… and those things grow in the desert. With the help of our neighbors, who’s backyard garden should really just be called their “backyarden,” we struck out on a new endeavor. Aside from the obvious and direct lessons in nurturing and patience, many of the experiences our family had in growing a healthy, vegetable-raising backyard garden also resonate with growing a healthy, disciple-raising local church congregation. Here are five things that our family vegetable garden taught me about nurturing growth in churches:

1. Create and Cultivate the Plot. Although in the last few weeks of cucumber domination, our garden left it’s carefully constructed confines, the effort and energy spent in defining, even creating the boundaries directly impacted successful harvesting. Effort was made to construct sides, elevate the planting base and truck in soil containing nutrients and growth agents. Hard work went into culling weeds and grass and tilling the existing clay for deep root growth beyond what was imported. This base became a successful source of healthy growth and created a far greater yield than the same about of area in our yard otherwise would have.

In the same way, churches with effective boundaries, centered on who God has uniquely called them to become, have a better chance at healthy growth and ripe disciples. It is hard work, and not exactly measurable at first, to define boundaries and enrich the existing culture in most churches. Every organization naturally drifts toward complexity, and without deep intervention and removal of roots of past experience, managing the organization can overshadow making the disciples. A strong, defined foundation doesn’t ensure health, but health is much harder to achieve without it.

2. Don’t Avoid the Manure. The “nutrients” and “growth” agents from #1 above were manure. Stinky, smelly messy poop, that when treated in the right environment, produces big, fat vegetables. As I compared notes with other rookie gardeners who did not have as productive a yield, it became clear that our efforts to wallow in the manure, shoveling it, so to speak, were not unrewarded. Crap is critical to growth.

Crap isn’t any less stinky or more fun to handle in the church than it is in the garden. But growth can occur when we deal with it, instead of following initial survival instincts of avoidance or minimalization. It happens, and given the right conditions, only in God’s brilliant design, could conflict, pain and error ever produce growth.

3. Over Planting Affects Everything. Looking back, the biggest rookie mistake we made was to over-plant. We had the right intentions, and at the local garden center, our excitement of what could-be overruled the realities of what our plot could sustain. The summer had hardly begun before tomato plants began outgrowing their wire-basket boundaries and competing for resources. In fact, trying to reverse-engineer structures to support widely fantastic, yet counter productive tomato plant growth, took the majority of our gardening time and energy. And that was before our “3 seed” cucumber experiment started working and consuming every square inch of available space. Evidently cucumbers are a vine. Our green bell peppers didn’t stand a chance, and as it turns out we like green bell peppers more than cucumbers or tomatoes.

In my work as a strategic outsider for churches and ministry organizations, we like to say that “success assaults clarity.” Great programatic intentions left unchecked do not take long to compete for finite financial resources and limited square footage. The excitment of what could be quickly becomes excruciating as we try to sustain growth and success. It doesn’t take long for ministry growth in one area, or every area, to be counter-productive to overall organizational health.A clear and aligned  strategy for disciple development minimizes the ongoing headaches usually found within the the instinctive “just start something” approach to ministry. Just because you could start a new ministry or launch another program, rarely means you should.

4. Benefits of Growth Reach Far. Hands-down, our favorite part of this year’s garden was the opportunity to share with our friends and family. At one point we ate dinner with our neighbors and everything but the meat contained something from the backyard, which our dog appreciated. We also ate more fresh food and even pickled some of the banana and jalapeño peppers, storing up extras for fresh summer salsa in late winter days. A few months of intentional effort impacted every other part of the year in ways that we didn’t know possible.

It goes without saying that God can do more with our obedience and intentional focus on the Gospel than we could ever ask for or imagine. Growth in the church is more than attendance or budget, and the influence of disciples making disciples extends beyond the walls to impact families and communities beyond our programatic intentions.

5. Growth is All God. With our best efforts, all we can really ever do is cultivate local conditions, as growth in a garden, or a church, is all God. From the very design of plants or people, God has set forth His plan for growth and development. Our highest level of participation really comes down to obedience to His Word and heeding the direction of the Holy Spirit.We can water, but He provides the rain and sunlight. We can turn the soil, but He grows the roots. We can build the plot, but He grows the plant. We can start the class, but He brings the insight. We can teach the passage, but He implants the application.

We are looking forward to next summer’s garden, and even plan to add an additional plot, just for the cucumbers.

>> Read more from Bryan

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Bryan Rose

As Lead Navigator for Auxano, Bryan Rose has a strong bias toward merging strategy and creativity within the vision of the local church and has had a diversity of experience in just about every ministry discipline over the last 12 years. With his experience as a multi-site strategist and campus pastor at a 3500 member multi-campus church in the Houston Metro area, Bryan has a passion to see “launch clarity” define the unique Great Commission call of developing church plants and campus, while at the same time serving established churches as they seek to clarify their individual ministry calling. Bryan has demonstrated achievement as a strategic thinker with a unique ability to infuse creativity into the visioning process while bringing a group of people to a deep sense of personal ownership and passion.

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Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> Thanks, this is interesting and helps the preacher to navigate and plan is goals and objectives during difficult seasons and changing times
 
— Paul B Thomas (@Pentecostaltv)
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Christinah Facing the dilema in church planting has just given me sleepless nights with headache in this small town in Swaziland Southern Africa. The model we used is not working. People around are shunning our services. I do not feel like quitting, but some of my team members are discouraged now.
 
— Tau Kutloano Christinah
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I have found out more. I guess it's all about backing? ReNew doesn't have that. We are a mission church, in a small downtown area. We are a wonderful church though. I guess we also needed everyone to attend and possibly be of service all the time. If I could have it all over to again, I'd participate more, open my mouth more,....IDK, I still am holding onto God's intervention somehow. We have until Sept. 30th.
 
— Linda Speaks
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

3 Keys to Unleashing Your Church’s Growth Potential

Have you ever been to the circus and wondered how one small rope tied around the leg of a huge elephant can keep it from moving? When elephants are young, their handlers use the same size rope tied to their leg, with the other end tied to a rod buried deep in the ground. At that age, since they are still small, it’s enough to hold them. As they grow larger, the elephants become conditioned to believe that when they feel the rope around their leg, they cannot get away, so they never try to break free. Because they believe they can’t, they remain right where they are. They’re going nowhere.

Unfortunately, that same mindset is keeping some churches from experiencing the growth potential that many church leaders long for. When a church starts out, the lack of resources keeps most churches on a tight leash. However, as the church grows, many leaders fail to take the time to think strategically through the growth. Eventually, this leaves the church leader feeling a lot like the 5 ton elephant, realizing their potential, but unable to go anywhere.

If your church is stuck in a place where you can’t seem to break through to reach the vision you have for your church, here are three keys for moving forward:

1. Set aside time to evaluate where you are in relation to your expanding vision.

As your church grows, you have to be intentional about continually asking if what you’re doing is right and best. If you don’t understand the important ministry metrics to measure and keep the results of your ministry in front of you, you’ll never have the guarantee that what you’re doing is working.

 2. Develop an understanding for how your processes and systems work. 

While focusing on the weekend experience is very important, it’s not enough to engage people in real relationships and authentic community. None of this just happens; there must be a method behind what you want to accomplish. Having an understanding for how your processes and systems work can help you make the right adjustments as your ministries continue to grow.

3. Don’t be afraid to test your limits.

Unlike the elephant, you know you have an opportunity to break free. While getting from where you are to where you want to be might take time, you’ll never get there unless you take the first step. The key is understanding what steps to take and how far you should step out.

These are just a few of the ideas covered by Carl Adams in his eBook Is Your Church an Elephant?If you want to understand how your church can break free from the leash that’s keeping you from running wild and how technology helps cut your free, you can download the eBook here.

 Has your church reached a place where you feel tied up? What are you doing to break free?

Read more from Church Community Builder here.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Church Community Builder

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COMMENTS

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Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> Thanks, this is interesting and helps the preacher to navigate and plan is goals and objectives during difficult seasons and changing times
 
— Paul B Thomas (@Pentecostaltv)
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Christinah Facing the dilema in church planting has just given me sleepless nights with headache in this small town in Swaziland Southern Africa. The model we used is not working. People around are shunning our services. I do not feel like quitting, but some of my team members are discouraged now.
 
— Tau Kutloano Christinah
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I have found out more. I guess it's all about backing? ReNew doesn't have that. We are a mission church, in a small downtown area. We are a wonderful church though. I guess we also needed everyone to attend and possibly be of service all the time. If I could have it all over to again, I'd participate more, open my mouth more,....IDK, I still am holding onto God's intervention somehow. We have until Sept. 30th.
 
— Linda Speaks
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.