I speak with churches often who want to grow and they contact me wanting suggestions of how to do so. In doing so, I often tell them there are some church growth paradigms they need to make sure they have.
Sometimes people have simply failed to do what we’ve been told to do – “Go and make disciples.” All the ministry is focused on programs inside the church. Or the church isn’t making genuine disciples. People are observers more than participants. They aren’t being trained to take their faith into their everyday life – sharing Christ with their neighbors, co-workers and friends.
Go and make disciples really is the plan for church growth paradigms.
But with the best visions there are often paradigms towards implementation that can either help or hinder accomplishment of that vision. I have observed if you want to have a culture susceptible and open to growth then there are some common paradigms necessary. In most situations, an absence of certain actions or mindsets on the part of leaders keeps the church from moving forward.
Now I should note – church growth paradigms are not truths. You can do everything in a list like this and still not grow. Or, you can do none of them and explode with growth. God is in charge of growth.Yet, He has given us a mind and creativity to think, dream and explore. (Trace that back to the creation account.)
7 Church Growth Paradigms
1. Lead with leaders
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.
Among church growth paradigms, you should ask, Do we have the right people? Are you leading with people who want the church to grow or just want things like they want things (or like things have always been)? Could there be creative people who would want church growth sitting on the sidelines because they’ve never been asked to get involved?
I realize you may not be able to change the church’s leadership, but part of your leadership may be leading through a maze of bad leadership and empowering people who want to move things forward. The best leaders (and “next season” leaders) often have to be recruited.
2. 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 important point among church growth paradigms.
Are you spending your best energy on things which matter most in helping the church “go and make disciples”? Read Ephesians 5:16. (And protecting your family time may be one place you need to better prioritize so you are as healthy a leader as you can be.)