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

3 Checks for the Critics of Growth

So that’s a pretty humbling heart check for those of us who love to see things grow.

But what about the critics of growth? Are the naysayers and critics always healthy?

Not always. Here are three things critics of growth might be wise to pay attention to.

1. Jealousy

Sometimes I wonder if the critics of church growth are fueled (even a little bit) by jealousy.

Envy is a deadly motivator. It can’t see anyone else succeed and calls into question the motives of anyone who does.

Jealously says God hasn’t given me enough.

What’s worse, jealousy causes you to ignore your own issues while you invent issues for other people.

And this comes from a guy who’s had to wrestle jealousy to the ground.

Been there. Don’t want to live there.

2. Feeling Threatened

Many critics of church growth feel threatened by churches that are actually being more effective in reaching the community than their church is.

If you’re feeling threatened, don’t criticize, reflect. Why are they reaching people you’re not? Why are they baptizing more people?

It’s probably not because they’ve sold out or secretly worship the devil. No, in many cases the leaders of growing churches are faithful (like you are). They’re just a little more relevant.

They’ve discovered how to speak to the culture.

The problem with relevance is that it always threatens irrelevance.

If you’re feeling threatened, there’s a very good chance that’s why.

So work on your relevance, not on taking shots at the leader who is.

3. Justification

If you’re not growing and others are, you’ll probably think of 1,000 reasons why.

You’re just being faithful.

They’ve sold out.

It’s harder where you are.

You just don’t have the right people.

God’s not being fair.

Justification leads to stagnation.

Instead of looking for justifications, look for explanations.

Why are you not accomplishing your mission? Why are you not moving forward? Why are you not reaching people?

Justifications lead to stagnation. Explanations lead to progress.

Find the explanation, muster up the courage and faith to address the issues, and you’ll move forward.

Need Some Help?

Believe it or not, most of the growth that happens in churches doesn’t just happen in megachurches. Sure, they’re growing.

But most of it statistically happens in small churches (which is about 85 percent of all churches). And that’s where help is needed the most.

I know because I’ve lived through it.

If you’re reaching more people but you’re currently stuck at an attendance plateau, I have some practical help for you.

Breaking 200 Without Breaking You is a course I’ve created that provides strategies on how to tackle eight practical barriers (including a more nuanced and practical dive into everything I covered in this blog post) that keep churches from reaching more than 200 people. And it’s designed so I can walk your entire leadership team or elder board through the issues.

So whether your church is 50, 150 or 250 in attendance, the principles will help you gain the insight you need to break the barrier more than 85 percent of churches can’t break. Even churches with attendances of 300-500 are finding the material helpful as they try to reach more people.

Click here to get instant access for you and your team.

What Do You Think?

So those are false motives I’ve had to wrestle with and I’ve seen many other leaders struggle with.

The truth is, I think we all want to see the church to grow. The question is why.

Do you see any other false motives?

This article originally appeared here.

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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.