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Is Church Growth All About the Pastor?

Common story: First ________ Church gets a new minister—Pastor Joe.

He’s not a very good communicator. People start leaving.

Within two years, attendance has dropped by half. Giving is down by a third. First Church descends into a malaise.

Eventually, Pastor Joe is fired and the search for his replacement begins.

A year later, First Church hires a new minister—Pastor Daniel.

He’s a great communicator. The church immediately starts growing. Happy days are here again. People love Pastor Daniel.

Why did this happen to First Church? Nothing else changed.

The building remained the same. The worship times remained the same. The ministry programs remained the same. The key staff remained the same.

The only thing that changed was the pastor.

Yet, First Church’s attendance and giving rose and fell in direct response to the quality of the preacher.

Can I be brutally honest?

When it comes to church attendance, nothing matters as much as the ability of the pastor to deliver good sermons.

If a pastor is good at his job, the church grows.

If he’s bad at his job, the church shrinks.

Sounds unspiritual—but it’s true.

It shouldn’t be this way—but it is. Each week is a referendum on the pastor’s ability to deliver an inspiring sermon.

Admit it: You’ve gotten into the car with your spouse and begun critiquing the sermon before you’re out of the church parking lot. Or you’ve been asked, “How was church?”

What do you talk about?

The sermon.

Let’s be real: Protestants judge the quality of a worship service largely by the power of the sermon to move them.

Nothing else comes close.