Healthy things grow. That’s just how life works. But looking around, there isn’t always evidence our churches are alive. In nature, growth is simple- it takes a seed, some good soil, sunlight, and water. When it comes to growing churches, it’s really not that much different in essence- the Gospel, planted in a good community, nurtured by grace and prayer, will produce growth in various measurable ways.
Well, it may be simple, but as most of us can recognize, it’s anything but easy. What usually prevents growth isn’t a lack of these simple elements, but the extra, unnatural obstacles that get in the way.
Here are six things that prevent growth in our churches.
- You Have Too Much Conflict
Have you ever been invited to a friend or family member’s house and they couldn’t stop arguing? Awkward, right? And all you want to do is leave. Well, that’s how new people feel about churches in conflict. The point isn’t that all conflict is bad- it is inevitable and in fact, can even be healthy. Ideally, Christians should be the world’s model on how to best manage conflict. The problem is gossip, bickering, and backbiting. Growing churches learn to handle conflict the right way.
- You’re Doing Too Much
A lot of churches brag about how many ministries and clubs they have, something for every imaginable age and interest group. The multiplication of events and activities could be distractions from the “main things”…like the weekend experience.
- You Aren’t Welcoming Outsiders
As habitual churchgoers, we can lose sight of what it’s like to be the newcomer who easily feels vulnerable, lost, and maybe judged. They are not likely to introduce themselves to you; that’s our job.
And you still don’t have greeters at your doors?
- You Aren’t Challenging Insiders
As a pastor I want to please people, especially the people I see weekly. But if I’m not challenging them to take their next steps, they’re not growing. And that means neither is our church. Commit to stop pandering to insiders, and challenge them to become contributors.
- You Keep Fighting “The Culture”
The Church and the World will be at odds, the Bible tells us. But never in Jesus or the Apostles’ time did that mean launching an all-out war against everything in their culture. When we get too insular, we level vague assaults at overgeneralized notions of “The Culture,” that simply turn off unchurched people. The effort changes no one’s heart.
- You Think You’re Good Enough
Jim Collins wrote, “Good is the enemy of Great,” and that is true for many churches. We grow our parish to a place where it’s “good enough.” We know it’s not great, “but hey, it’s just church, what do you expect?” Such attitudes easily creep in and kill growth. You can’t grow if you don’t think you need to and won’t commit to becoming a great parish.
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