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7 Non-Negotiables of Growing Churches

I have been involved in a number of conversations lately about church growth.

What should growth look like? How does it look different for various sizes of churches? Should you add services or multisite? Are the measurements for success primarily attendance and budget? Can you be successful without numerical growth? If not, what is a healthy rate of growth? What about the growth within your people and the making of disciples? And on and on and on …

In the March edition of Inc. magazine, Leigh Buchanan interviews Stanford professors Robert Sutton and Huggy Rao about the practices of companies who successfully grow and scale. I found their insights quite applicable for some of the things needed for churches to grow.

While this is obviously not a fully-inclusive list, the following are Seven Practices of Growing Churches I gleaned from the article:

1. Growing churches focus on church health more than church growth.

Intuitive church leaders know attendance and budget only tell a portion of the story. Rick Warren introduced us to the concept of church health. Rick reminded us that healthy things grow. Therefore, focus on church health. 

Rao points out, “When people think of growth, usually they think of anatomy. How big are the limbs? But the real thing is physiology. Is stuff circulating well—the blood and the oxygen? Even if your anatomy is very developed, your physiology can be bad.”

2. Growing churches demand excellence.

Growing churches know the level of excellence must keep pace with the level of numerical growth.

Sutton says, “Companies grow well and scale badly when they focus on running up the numbers but not the quality.”

3. Growing churches are vigilant about their mission, vision and core values.

As the company grew to over 13,000 stores, Howard Schultz acknowledged the “watering down of the Starbucks experience.” In contrast, Sutton notes Facebook employees are “internalized in a very deep way what is sacred and taboo at Facebook. They are are going to take their eyes off that mindset ball.”

Shawn Lovejoy, lead pastor of Mountain Lake Church, says, “You must be mean about the vision.”