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Growing Churches Face Tension: 7 Key Challenges

Leadership is about living in the middle of a number of tensions that won’t ever be resolved … in fact, if you resolve the tension, you end up creating a whole bunch of other problems for your church. I’ve had the privilege of spending the majority of my leadership career within growing churches and I’ve seen so many of these tensions up close. Rather than seeing these as problems to be solved … they are simply tensions that we must navigate. Leading in these tensions demands our constant focus as leaders … like surfing on a wave, we always need to be reading the conditions of these tensions and adjusting our leadership to achieve the perfect balance.

1. Community vs. Cause

As church leaders, we need to concern ourselves with how the community amongst the people who are already connected to our church is developing, while at the same time be outwardly focused on who we haven’t reached yet. If we spend too much energy on those people we’ve already reached, we risk becoming insular and can spend a lot of time naval-gazing. On the end of the spectrum, if we think it’s all about just reaching people who aren’t here, we risk alienating people who have been impacted by our ministry.

2. Temporal Goals vs. Eternal Value  

By definition, we work in an “eternal business” in the church … we deal with people’s ultimate destiny. The stakes are super high … we’ve been enlisted into building the kingdom! At the same time … somebody has to make sure the signs are set up, the snow is shoveled and the bulletin is ready to hand out, because if we don’t do those things well it communicates to our guests that we weren’t expecting them. In fact … we need to set goals that make incremental improvements to the “way” we do ministry to help us get to a place where we can make the ultimate difference in people’s lives.