Innovative Ministry
Why Break Church Growth Barriers? (And Why This Question Matters)
Before learning how to get bigger, every church needs to ask if it should get bigger.

We always have to think through the reasons why we do what we do. Especially when it’s as important as the church and the mission God has given us.

Don’t Assume, Assess

What about pastors whose gifts are suited to leading a church of one size range, but not a bigger size? Should they push to become bigger? Or should they figure out how to pastor in the best possible way for the size of church they’re most suited to lead?

What about pastors whose gifts are suited to leading a church of one size range, but not a bigger size?

If, for instance, a pastor’s leadership sweet spot is between 100 and 200, is it necessary for them to change their leadership style so they can pastor a church of 500 – 1,000? Is it even helpful? Maybe not.

If there was evidence that bigger churches are more effective than smaller ones, then every church should strive to get bigger. But that’s not what the research shows.

Certainly there are some kinds of ministry that big churches can do better than small ones. But the evidence that tells us that 10 churches of 100 will do at least as much discipleship and evangelism as one church of 1,000. Maybe more.

And those 10 smaller churches will probably see more salvations, too. As a recent Lifeway survey discovered, “46 percent of smaller churches (fewer than 50 in worship services) say they had 10 conversions or more for every 100 in attendance, while only 18 percent of churches 250 and above meet that benchmark.”

No Magic Pills

Pushing for numerical growth isn’t wrong, but it’s not a magic pill. It has some downsides.

Given this reality, we need to ask if we should get bigger before teaching pastors and churches how to get bigger.

It only makes sense to ask some serious questions about this. Like, is it wise to keep pushing for numerical growth if it takes you out of your leadership sweet spot? And, is it possible that most churches are small, not because they’re failing, but because that’s where most pastors and churches do their most effective ministry?

I’m not assuming what those answers might be. Small churches aren’t a magic pill, either. They have plenty of downsides.

But the questions matter.

Asking Why

So let’s get back to the question posed in the title.

Why break church growth barriers?

The go-to answer is “because we want to reach more people for Jesus.”

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July 03, 2019 at 1:00 AM

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