Why We All Need to Do a Motive Check on Church Growth

3. Insecurity

Sometimes insecure people want their church or organization to grow because it makes them feel better about themselves.

Insecurity and pride are closely linked. Why? Insecurity can lead to an obsession with self the same way narcissism can. The insecure person thinks about themselves constantly and will use others to make them feel better, which of course, is always a mistake.

Pride, competition and insecurity should drive you to God (and perhaps to a Christian counselor), not to more.

Insecurity can lead to an obsession with self the same way narcissism can.

4. Organizational Preservation

There’s also weird but real motive for growth in stuck or dying churches. Too many churches want to grow simply so they can stay afloat.

You’ve heard it more often than anyone would like to admit:

We need some people to help pay the bills.

We just need more butts in the seats if this is going to work.

We are so short on volunteers that we really need to get some new people in the doors.

People who join your church will soon see that you value them for what they can do, not for who they are. As a result, they won’t stick.

Cruel as it sounds, churches that want to grow simply to keep themselves alive probably should die. They’ve lost the mission.

5. Because You Simply Want to Grow

Other churches don’t need to grow to stay afloat, but instead, they want to grow simply because, well, they want to grow.

The logic goes like this: Healthy things grow, right? So we should add a campus, or add a service or embark on a building campaign to make more space.

Well, maybe. But actually maybe not.

But that healthy ‘thing’ should already be growing, to the point where you need to make a move or it just makes sense to make a move.

Expanding so you’ll start growing is like saying you want to get married so you’ll fall in love. No, you get married because you’ve fallen in love.

Usually, a church should expand because one of two things is happening:

There’s not enough room for people who are already coming.

You’ve got a thriving ministry in one location and you want to bring it to a new location.

Remember, you never reproduce who you want to be. You reproduce who you are.

What often happens when you expand because you want to expand is that you will end up with more debt, more complexity, more stagnation and more confusion.

Dying at one location = 12 feet under at two locations.

Expanding for the sake of expansion is not a growth strategy; it’s actually an implosion strategy.

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Carey Nieuwhof
Speaker and podcaster Carey Nieuwhof is a former lawyer and founding pastor of Connexus Church, one of the largest and most influential churches in Canada. With over 6 million downloads, The Carey Nieuwhof Leadership Podcast features today's top leaders and cultural influencers. His most recent book is “Didn’t See It Coming: Overcoming the 7 Greatest Challenges That No One Expects and Everyone Experiences.” Carey and his wife, Toni, reside near Barrie, Ontario and have two children.