Growth Barriers

I was recently asked by a ministry partner what numerical growth barriers I have experienced as a pastor within a megachurch.  This question stemmed from a doctoral project the person was working in connection to a section of The Everychurch Guide to Growth titled: “Why the 1,000 Barrier Is Difficult.”  Though I am not a huge fan of labeling growth solely by numbers, here were some thoughts to add to his existing list:

  1. Internally Driven.  There always needs to be a balance between outreach and inreach, however, when the needs of church-founding generations begin to dictate the ministry strategy over what is best to reach the unchurched, the church will become stagnant and slowing dwindle with no new growth.
  2. Strategically Scattered.  As a church should continually be pushing forward with new and innovative ministry strategies and initiatives, there is a danger in seeking to try too many “new things” that venture outside the organization’s core philosophy and mission.  When a church goes through a time of transitional lull, they must remain steadfast to who they are, not panicking with “the next new thing” that goes beyond who they truly are.  When this happens, further demise is inevitable (see “How the Mighty Fall” from Jim Collins).
  3. Contextually Disconnected.  As all aging churches become more inbred, their focus, language, and methods become “churched,” locked in time.  Soon, these churches produce thoughts, words, and actions incompatible with their existing culture, and are therefore no longer “in” their world, becoming irrelevant, impractical, and unapproachable.  Unless a contextual census is conducted, followed by a “relevancy makeover,” a growth barrier will only heighten.

Other thoughts that come to mind that you have personally experienced and/or witnessed?


~ by Dave Smith on May 12, 2010.

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