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7 Reasons You're Not Reaching the People You Want to Reach

Almost every leader I know says they want their church to grow.

And almost all of them say they want much of that growth to come from people who don’t go to church.

But precious few churches see real traction in this area.

Most churches aren’t growing, and even the ones that are sometimes experience a majority of their spike from transfer growth rather than from previously unchurched people.

So why don’t churches who say they want to reach unchurched people actually reach unchurched people?

Here are seven frequent reasons:

1. Your desire to reach unchurched people is an intention, not a strategy. You’re basically doing what you’ve always been doing and hoping for different results. Wanting people to attend and creating a church unchurched people love to attend are two very different things. If you haven’t made radical changes to how you do church, don’t expect radically different results.

2. You’ve ended up in no-man’s land by trying to please everyone. Your church is too contemporary to make insiders happy and your approach is still too dated, irrelevant and unengaging to capture the imagination of unchurched people. You’ve made as many changes as you think you can navigate without alienating your existing membership, but not brought about nearly enough change to really engage outsiders. You are in no-man’s land. In an attempt to please everyone, you have pleased no one.

3. Your real vision is about you. On the wall, your vision is about Jesus, the Kingdom and the world, but down the hall, your reality is about how to keep Mr. X from writing yet another angry letter and how to appease Ms. X who says your church just isn’t deep enough. You say it’s about others, but you spend all of your time on insiders. Keep that up, and no matter what your mission and vision say, your church will have a vision no bigger than its (contentious) members.

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Speaker and podcaster Carey Nieuwhof is a former lawyer and founding pastor of Connexus Church, one of the largest and most influential churches in Canada. With over 6 million downloads, The Carey Nieuwhof Leadership Podcast features today's top leaders and cultural influencers. His most recent book is “Didn’t See It Coming: Overcoming the 7 Greatest Challenges That No One Expects and Everyone Experiences.” Carey and his wife, Toni, reside near Barrie, Ontario and have two children.