God is inviting us to participate in the expansion of His kingdom. And, He’s given us the responsibility to evangelize and steward the people He brings to us. This is the heart of church growth.
This resource is a tool featuring content from some of the best ChurchLeaders articles on church growth, evangelism, and discipleship, all rolled into one article. We compiled it to make you aware of the barriers that might be hindering your church’s growth, and we provide action items and solutions to break through those barriers. However, you have to apply these principles in your church and in your local ministry context.
Habit 1: Growing Churches Replicate Leadership
You know…the one where Jethro counseled Moses about burning out? Here’s a quick refresher:
13 The next day Moses sat to judge the people, and the people stood around Moses from morning till evening. 14 When Moses’ father-in-law saw all that he was doing for the people, he said, “What is this that you are doing for the people? Why do you sit alone, and all the people stand around you from morning till evening?” 15 And Moses said to his father-in-law, “Because the people come to me to inquire of God; 16 when they have a dispute, they come to me and I decide between one person and another, and I make them know the statutes of God and his laws.” 17 Moses’ father-in-law said to him, “What you are doing is not good. 18 You and the people with you will certainly wear yourselves out, for the thing is too heavy for you. You are not able to do it alone. 19 Now obey my voice; I will give you advice, and God be with you! You shall represent the people before God and bring their cases to God, 20 and you shall warn them about the statutes and the laws, and make them know the way in which they must walk and what they must do. 21 Moreover, look for able men from all the people, men who fear God, who are trustworthy and hate a bribe, and place such men over the people as chiefs of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties, and of tens. (Exodus 18:13-21, ESV)
It wasn’t feasible for Moses to continue being the sole decision maker among all the people. This isn’t an easy task. It will require you to trust other people and to relinquish control of certain tasks. You may not be able to make every hospital visit, or lead another discipleship group, or conduct a wedding. You may have to start saying no to things. And you have to be okay with disappointing some people.
Habit 2: Growing Churches Have Enough Room for People
True or False – If you have empty seats in your meeting space, you have enough room?
You may think that because there are empty seats in your service, you have enough room. But, when a room reaches 70%-80% of its seating capacity, it’s running close to exceeding its comfort capacity. That means if first-time visitors to your church feel cramped, they may not come back. This principle applies not only to your main meeting space, but to every classroom and other meeting room in your church.
CAUTION: The temptation may be to create a second service thinking the congregation will evenly split in half to attend each service. This isn’t usually the case, however. If your church comfortably seats 500 people and you move to a second service, the reality is 400 people will attend one service and 100 may attend the other.
[UPDATE]: NEW VERSION – 11 FULL HABITS IN EBOOK
Habit 3: Growing Churches are Led by Growing Leaders
Leaders are Learners
Nelson Searcy said “growing churches are led by growing leaders.” Being intentional about growing as a leader, growing in your knowledge and understanding of the Word, and growing in your walk with Christ are all essential to growing your church.
- Create a monthly reading plan to read one new book each month. It doesn’t even have to be a Christian living book. But, remember that leaders are readers.
- Find online learning opportunities.
- Find a mentor or coach you consistently meet with to keep you on track with your goals, and to provide outside perspective on your decisions.
Habit 4: Growing Churches are Outwardly Focused
What does it mean to be outwardly focused?
It means you and your team are more concerned with outreach, discipleship, and evangelism than with buildings, resources, and overhead. Get those backwards and the wrong focus will sap your church’s energy and ability for real ministry. In persecuted countries, where physical church buildings don’t exist, there is oftentimes a stronger outward focus on ministry.
This moves outreach and evangelism from being a “spectator sport” that only paid staff participate in, to involving the entire church. How do you know if you’re too inwardly focused? According to Nelson Searcy, you should have a ratio of five first-time guests for every 100 regular attenders.
Habit 5: Growing Churches Have Leaders that Please the Right People
Shouldn’t pastors please everyone?
The answer to that question is a big, fat NO.
At the end of the day we all want to be liked and respected. But, if we’re going to be effective leaders, we have to accept the fact that we can’t please everyone. It’s impossible to make every person attending your church happy. So, we have to please the Lord first and foremost. Then, we have to please the right people. Who are the right people?
The Right People
- Understand and share the mission and vision of your church
- Are not emotional leeches that suck the life out of other people
- Are wise and emotionally healthy
- Have a track record of moving the mission of the church forward
- Are teachable