Monday, May 12, 2008

Why Do Churches Plateau or Fail to Grow?

Did you know that the average church looses about 20-25% of its Sunday morning attendance each year. This is due to several factors:

1. People move because of work
2. The elderly pass away
3. Some people change churches
4. Others grow cold spiritually and backslide

These (and other) reasons add up to a 20-25% loss each year. This means if a church wants to maintain its current attendance it has to have that many people coming in through the front door and STAYING – just to maintain. And if a church wants to GROW it has to have that many people and MORE coming through the font doors. You get the idea.

So why do churches plateau or fail to grow? I’ll offer three insights:

LACK OF VISION - When the leader has no vision it is IMPOSSIBLE to CALL PEOPLE to RADICAL SACRIFICE for a worthy goal. No one offers talent, time, energy, and support without good reason to do so. The vision, connected to a God-honoring purpose, is the reason. Where there is no vision people won’t align their resources and collaborate. Confusion is a barrier to growth; clarity brings focus and ministry intensity, and that yields a great reward.

WEAK LEADERSHIP - When a church leader (or pastor) believes he can’t launch a new initiative because someone might become angry, they betray the mission. Our church is surrounded by people who are lost without Christ and headed for an eternity without God and it is paramount that PCC stay on-mission. The pastor who won’t lead a congregation through a process of introducing a new song or a new teaching method (to reach new people) because some person in the third row is likely to complain has MISTAKEN his WEAKNESS for KINDNESS. He has just abdicated his authority to a whiner. In contrast, the kind thing to do is to offer Christ to the masses. The weak thing to do is to defer to a few critics and, in so doing, condemn their neighbors to an eternity without Christ.

CONFUSED LEADERSHIP – The most common paradigm of a pastor’s role has been to pray, then get out of the way – while the heavy donors call the shots. This results in churches becoming little more than bureaucratic systems whose power-players concern themselves only with staying in office and protecting their turf. But when a local pastor takes seriously his vows to reach his community for Jesus Christ, growth becomes more likely. Let there be no confusion, the church exists to fulfill the Greatest Commandment and the Great Commission.