When Church Growth Needs a Makeover


There are many churches that use the mega-church as a validating factor if the small church is growing or effective.  From a quantitative perspective, church growth is important, as with any organizational entity, effectiveness and your operating model is what really counts.  As a business process improvement professional, it's important to implement the proper business practices so when the church begins to grow, others will pick up the right habits and follow suit.  It's not easy to deprogram yourself and teach others the right way at the same time.  Old habits will eventually manifest and rub off.  I think this happens when a church grows faster than it's ability to sustain itself.  Growth is good, but healthy sustainable growth is best.  If you ever find yourself in that position, don't fret!

I read an article, 8 Reasons Most Churches Never Break the 200 Attendance Mark which discussed reasons why churches struggle with growth.  Most of the time, the changes that churches make focus on the outside such as the location, type of music or cultural setting.  These have its part in church growth, but nothing speaks louder than chaos, confusion, and disorganization.

The overall concept is that churches organize, behave, lead and manage like a small organization. Here are the 8 reasons:

  1. The leaders lack a strategy.
  2. True leaders aren’t leading. 
  3. The pastor is the primary caregiver.
  4. Volunteers are unempowered.
  5. The governance team micromanages. 
  6. Too many meetings.
  7. Too many events and programs that lead nowhere.
  8. The pastor suffers from a desire to please everybody.

Perhaps you noticed that most of these points focus on the church leadership.   The phrase "train the trainer" is a critical part in the process of establishing leadership duties and responsibilities. If the trainers are not being trained by the leaders, then inevitably there will be a systemic leadership issue that will hinder growth and discipleship. Bear in mind that there are reasons outside of the eight mentioned that also affect growth beyond numbers.  The quality of your congregation/organization is far more important than the quantity.  There is strength in numbers, but disorganization and chaos can suffocate the mega-organizations.  Responsibility, accountability, proper oversight, training, and empowerment can only grow a healthy organization.