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The Church Model Doesn’t Matter (as Long as You Stick With It)


When churches stop growing, their pastors often try to jumpstart things by looking outside of their context for answers.

They start watching other pastors’ sermons.

They start reading articles about how that pastor used a unique approach that nobody else is using.

Pretty soon—once news about this church starts bouncing around the evangelical echo-chamber—all of a sudden everyone is trying to start a campus.

Or preaching in ripped jeans and wearing Bono sunglasses like Carl Lentz.

And that works for Carl Lentz.

Just like multi-site fits Craig Groeschel like a glove.

And just like bringing in heavyweight wrestlers and designing your stage to look like a professional wrestling ring works for Ed Young Jr.

Every single one of those pastors crafted an utterly unique style of ministry that works for them.

Just like there’s no “one” way to exercise or eat, there’s no “one” way to do church.

A Sunday-school driven church could CRUSH IT if its pastor really believed in it and stuck with it.

So could a church with orchestra music.

Or any number of things that 21st-century pastors think have outlived their shelf-life.

The church you serve can be effective with virtually any model of ministry as long as it uniquely fits who YOU are as the lead servant of your church and connects with your community.

And you know this.

Deep down you know this.

But yet you still second guess yourself.

Can I share a secret?

Once I start coaching a pastor and start digging underneath the hood, here’s what I discover: Their lack of growth is NEVER about their “model.”

The model is fine.

What has usually happened is they haven’t made the unique leadership adaptations that they needed to make at the 75, 200, 400, 600, 800, 1,200, 1,600 and 2,000 barriers.

Not knowing how to navigate those tricky internal changes, they look for an easy scapegoat.

The “model” is what usually appears in the crosshairs.


Can I share the best advice I can give to anyone seeking to regain confidence in the unique approach/path/model God wants them to use?

First, for one full year, eliminate ALL input from other pastors/thinkers.

I mean…

1. Stop watching other pastors’ sermons.

2. Unsubscribe from all of their Instagram feeds.

3. Stop going to church/pastor conferences.

4. Declare a fast from all church growth books.

Second, make a list of everything you’ve done in ministry that has worked for you in the past.

1. Things that felt right as you did them, regardless of the numbers.

2. Things that led people to Christ, grew them in their faith, and propelled them to share it with others.

3. Anything that seemed like a fit with your unique gifting.

Get it “all out” on paper.

Finally, ask your spouse or another trusted advisor if there’s anything they’d add to your list.

Once you believe you have an accurate picture of everything you’ve done well in the past, I want you to stare at it.

THAT is your “model.”


Be who God created YOU to be.



And with laser-like persistence and execution.

And watch what happens.

This article originally appeared here.

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I’m the founding Senior Pastor of Christ’s Church of the Valley in the suburbs of Philadelphia. In 13 years the church has grown from a small group in my home to over 2,000 incredible people. Before that I served in churches of 25 to 600 in attendance. I love church planters and pastors of smaller churches, and totally understand the difficult challenges they face as they try to help people find their way back to God.