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Getting Your Church Unstuck From Growth Hindrances

While we must reject too clinical an approach to church growth—making it devoid of God’s sovereign working—so too must we refuse to attribute all the growth of some churches to the arbitrary whims of God-sent revival. Thus, a healthy perspective on church growth leaves to God the things that only He can do (the stuff we pray about), but it willingly assumes responsibility for the things we can do something about. God gave me the teeth He gave me, but I brush them.

Likely Stick Points

There are limits to the size any organism can reach.

When my computer fouls up, I call a friend who knows many (secret) things about how they operate—the apparently logical explanations for why/how they do what they do. Being at a distance from my hardware and me, he can only guess at why I might be stuck with an unresponsive machine. His favorite line begins, “Why don’t you try …”

Some congregations remain the size they are because of physical limitations (community or building size) or assignment. Your church situation may be so unique that suggestions such as the ones to follow are of little help. In that case, keep praying. But just as 95% of all the fish in a lake inhabit a mere 5% of the space, and most computer problems can be traced to a limited number of common issues, so, too, do growth stick points tend to cluster around a few factors.

Image: Vierdrie

Of the many such elements, there are three that seem most critical to me: staff composition, fellowship grouping and people mobilizing.

1. Who comprises the staff—both paid and volunteer? A church will rarely grow beyond the capacity of its staff. One of the easiest, surest ways to foster church growth is to add people with staff responsibilities (not necessarily salary). The benefit to each of those new “staff members” and to the whole church cannot be overstated.

2. What fellowship groups exist in the church, and how easy it is for individuals to attach themselves to those clusters of people? Small churches stay stuck by trying to keep everybody doing all the same things as one big, happy family. Multiple services, small groups, choirs, and other groupings within the church will gear congregations for expansion—and open more opportunities for individuals to lead meaningfully.

3. Have significant levels and types of responsibility delegated to people in the church? If God entrusts His church with increasing levels of responsibility based on proven faithfulness, He will bless churches that do likewise. Besides, the more leaders are freed from doing “the same old same old,&quot the more they initiate new enterprises. Growth churches keep generating new ministries that inspire and challenge the congregation.

Churches get stuck at some sizes more than others, and while the plateau numbers may not be exact figurings, they do present pastors with slightly different challenges for trying new strategies in staffing, grouping and delegating.

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Category: Ministry, Winter 2016

About the Author: Daniel A. Brown, PhD, planted The Coastlands, a church near Santa Cruz, California, serving as Senior Pastor for 22 years. Daniel has authored four books and numerous articles, but he is best-known for the sorts of resources that help local church leaders excel in their spiritual assignment. For more about Daniel Brown, see his ministry resources website: CTW. Facebook. Twitter.

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