Many pastors and church planters across America will spend their time reading and listening to successful leaders advocating for breaking church growth barriers of 200, 500, 800, and even 1,000 people. They will attend conferences and take courses to learn how to copy and paste church strategies that, unfortunately, distract from what God has called them to do. Perhaps our paradigm for measuring church growth needs to change.
We look to the world to help us grow our churches by adopting metrics that mirror the business community rather than the faith community. Has it backfired when you consider the number of people leaving the church? COVID, politics, and cultural issues have only aggravated the problem causing many church leaders to scramble for solutions and new methods to reach people with the hope of Christ.
Perhaps our paradigm for measuring church growth needs to change.
Measuring the next wave of people coming into the kingdom of God may require a different set of criteria. Historically, we counted those in the pews, the number of volunteers, and the church’s bank account size. What if there was a better way? What if we saw church growth in terms that honored God and reciprocated dignity in our communities?
HOW DO YOU DEFINE GROWTH?
Your church may not be growing because of your definition of growth. If you measure growth by attendance, volunteers, and money, then consider how the New Testament advocates for a different type of metric and definition. Jesus said the greatest commandment is to LOVE the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength and to love your neighbor as yourself. Plus, Paul tells the church in Corinth that the greatest gift we can have is love, which he defines as patient, kind, etc.
Allow Scripture to modify our view of growth.
What if we used Jesus’ view on love and Paul’s definition of love as gauges for growth? Are we asking how loving our church is? We church leaders must allow Scripture to modify our view of growth more in terms of depth than numbers.
ARE YOU FOCUSED ON THE NEXT GENERATION?
A lack of an emphasis on the next generation could be another reason for church decline. Many older churches are shutting down or losing their influence in the community. Others don’t attract younger generations or fail to involve them in leadership. Yet, the ministry of Jesus began by methodically choosing disciples outside the system of religion. He also selected some young, inexperienced men.
If we could harness those qualities, we could turn the world upside down.
Consider John the Apostle, one of the youngest in the group. His youth naturally provided energy, drive, passion, and vision. If we could harness those qualities, we could turn the world upside down. If your church is not growing, evaluate if or how you involve the next generation. After all, Jesus did.
HAVE YOU LOST DIRECTION?
The third reason your church may not grow is mission drift. Or, maybe it is “missionary drift.” Suppose we as a church could understand that our primary role is to pursue God’s mission, which is to make disciples.
Ensure that your members are trained to do the work of God.
The sad indictment is that we often assume Sunday morning is the exclusive pipeline to train our members. We are called to equip people for the work of ministry. And yet, if we look at the statistics, very few of our members are even sharing their faith with friends. Ensure that your members are trained to do the work of God.
If we want to see more people come to Christ and more churches birth, it will require us to change how we lead. If we pivot in how we approach God’s Church and create pathways where we can train up ordinary missionaries, then we have a real chance at seeing the church grow. However, it will take an intentional leader like you who decides that our definitions must change, our focus on the next generation must change, and our mission focus must change.