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30 Barriers That Are Shot-Blocking Your Best Outreach Efforts

Rather than asking, “How do I grow my church?” the more penetrating question is usually: “What is keeping our church from growing?”
The Holy Spirit wishes all churches to grow—and specifically through conversion growth. So if a church isn’t growing, what is keeping it from fulfilling its full redemptive potential?
The dynamics of an effective church haven’t changed for 2,000 years. We are to evangelize the lost, assimilate those evangelized, disciple those assimilated, and unleash those who have been discipled for ministry and ongoing evangelistic impact.
Recently, with that in mind, I asked our staff to consider the following 30 areas and rank each one on a scale from one to 10. It’s not a unique list—it’s pretty basic to any veteran. We then compiled the average score for each area. The key was to highlight the lower scores, which reflected areas that might be hindering growth and, as a result, stand in need of attention. 

Let’s just say it was a conversation starter.
And a darn good one.
Here it is. Maybe it will get you and your team talking too.
1. Teaching: offering both engaging content and effective/dynamic communication.
2. Assimilation: enfolding newcomers into community within three months; small groups; membership.

3. Invitation: creating a culture of invitation; ease of invitation.
4. Evangelism: intentional evangelism among attenders; evangelism training.
5. Structure: lack of bureaucracy; ease of decision-making; letting leaders lead.

6. Location: ease of access from major roads/interstates.
7. Facility: seating/parking capacity; cleanliness; signage; first impression.
8. Atmosphere: warmth/friendliness; guest services; sensitivity/orientation toward first-time attenders.
9. Worship/Music: reflective of contemporary tastes/styles; audience engagement; leadership; quality; ability to embrace as a first-time attender.
10. Children’s Ministry: quality/attractiveness of program; security; parental engagement/affirmation.

11. Student Ministry: effectiveness at outreach to student community; quality/attractiveness of program; effectiveness at reaching students from existing families/weekend attendance; parental engagement/affirmation.

12. Participation: members and attenders are actively participating in ministry opportunities, serving teams, church-wide events, etc.

13. Serving Recruitment: enlistment for serving teams; discovery of spiritual gifts; new ministry development.

14. Internal Communications (among staff): internal awareness of events and programs; professionalism.

15. Communication to Church Members/Attenders: alerting them to upcoming events and activities; website; weekly emails.

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James Emery White is the founding and senior pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church in Charlotte, NC, and the ranked adjunct professor of theology and culture at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, where he also served as their fourth president. His newest book, Christianity for People Who Aren’t Christians: Uncommon Answers to Common Questions, is now available on Amazon or at your favorite bookseller. To enjoy a free subscription to the Church & Culture blog, visit ChurchAndCulture.org, where you can view past blogs in our archive and read the latest church and culture news from around the world. Follow Dr. White on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.