At some point—after having worked through everything you need to work through—the only way to break through your next attendance barrier is to commit yourself to what I call “a series of bold moves.”
The good news is the “bold moves” I’m talking about are almost always the same for each attendance barrier. Meaning, if you can’t break the 200 barrier or the 2,000 barrier, chances are your comrades in the trenches trying to break through those same exact attendance barriers will need to commit themselves to making the same bold moves to move the congregations they serve forward.
The bad news is these bold moves can be frightening to attempt, which is why most Senior Pastors never actually try to implement them.
Recently I had Joshua 1:9 emblazoned on the wall of my office in large decals. You know the verse, right?
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” – Joshua 1:9
I wanted to be reminded of this verse every single time I walk into my study.
Lack of know-how is usually not the thing that holds me back. Fear holds me back. Fear of how people will react. Fear of what my ministry would look like if I didn’t self-sabotage it. Fear of being successful. Fear of hard work.
As crazy as it sounds—it’s easier to walk up to a growth barrier and then high-tail it back to Egypt. There’s food in Egypt. And familiarity. And comfort. People complain back in Egypt, but not as much as in the desert. Most importantly, I don’t really need to rely on God back in Egypt. To make it through the desert I must trust that manna will fall from the sky.
Friends, after everything has been tweaked and moved and recalibrated, it comes down to choosing action over fear.
Here are four of the most common “bold moves” that need to be made, and the unique manifestation of them to be found at each size.
Staffing “Bold Moves”
At the 100 barrier, the bold move to be made with regard to staffing is simply to step out on faith and put the Senior Pastor on the payroll full-time.
At 200 the bold move is to bring on a second staff member. Lay leader boards almost always think this person should be someone who covers both youth and children. This is a mistake. It needs to be a worship pastor, then children’s (see my article on The 3 Buckets).
At 400 the bold move is to stop hiring anyone that has a pulse that can simply keep plates spinning, and to hire what I call a single “blue chip” staff member—this is the person who is simply GREAT at what they do. This person is almost always someone you can’t really afford at the time, and could get a job at a church four times your size. Their presence immediately changes your staff culture.
At 600 you should have four full-time staff members (other than yourself) who cover four keys areas: worship, children, youth and adults. The bold move at this stage will always be to CUT other things to get these four bases covered.
This attendance barrier is almost always broken by hiring an Executive Pastor. Not before this, and certainly not much after this attendance range. My bold move at this stage was to raise funding for my Executive Pastor through a capital Campaign, otherwise, I never would have been able to afford him.