10 Church Growth Myths

Many commonly held ideas about church that have ultimately proven to be myths.

10 Church Growth Myths

Over the years my Lawless Group team has been doing consultations, we’ve heard many commonly held ideas about church that have ultimately proven to be myths. Here are a few of them.

  1. “If we build it, they will come.”  Sometimes that happens, but not always. Sometimes the church is so tired from building that they lose their energy and vision for outreach.
  2. “Anyone under about the age of 40 prefers contemporary music.” Many do, but not all. Even some young students prefer more traditional music, and nobody prefers bad music. Poorly done music, regardless of style, attracts no one.
  3. “Adding a second service will increase our growth.” It might, but offering options is no guarantee of growth. That’s particularly the case if the current service is not strong. The same people who lead a poor service now aren’t likely to improve much in a second service.
  4. “Sunday School no longer works.” Its application is limited to churches that have on-campus education space, but churches with that space can have an effective Sunday School. In the words of one of my friends, “Sunday School still works if you’re willing to work a Sunday School.”
  5. “The 80 percent rule is a fallacy.” The finding that church growth usually plateaus when a worship center, educational space or parking lot is 80 percent full still rings true. Any growth beyond 80 percent tends to be short-lived.
  6. People don’t want to hear the Bible preached.” That’s just not accurate. The most evangelistic churches we’ve studied have been led by pastors who teach the Word expositionally and clearly.
  7. “The larger the church is, the more likely the gospel is watered-down.” First, compromise doesn’t happen because a church is large; compromise happens because leaders let it happen. Second, many large churches are thoroughly committed to the Word.
  8. “Raising the bar will drive people away.” It might for a little while, but the long-term effects of higher expectations tend to be healthier church growth.
  9. “Because our church has grown, I know fewer people.” Members of growing churches might know a smaller percentage of people, but most of us still have a small group of people we know well—regardless of the size of the church.
  10. “Smaller churches can’t make much difference.” Jesus started His work with 12 men, and the early believers gathered 120 people. The power of the Word of God and the Spirit of God isn’t dependent on the size of the congregation.

What myths would you add?

Chuck Lawless
Chuck Lawless is professor and senior associate dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions, Evangelism and Church Growth at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He has served as a pastor for almost twenty years, and is the author of Spiritual Warfare: Biblical Truth for Victory, Discipled Warriors: Healthy Churches Winning Spiritual Warfare, Making Disciples through Mentoring, Serving in Your Church's Prayer Ministry, and Eating the Elephant. Dr. Lawless speaks extensively around the countryYou can read articles from Dr. Chuck Lawless on his personal blog (ChuckLawless.com) ( or connect with him on Twitter and on Facebook. .