The number one topic in the local church over the last 30 plus years addresses the question, “How do I grow my church?” How can we break through to reach more people for Jesus? The words change, but the issue remains the same. Years ago, we called them hindrances to church growth, and now the question sounds more like “How do I get unstuck? How can we get unstuck to reach more people?
There was about a decade when we switched from church growth to church health, but it always comes back to growth, and avoiding hindrances to church growth. The reason for that is that healthy things grow! There is nothing new under the sun, right? But it’s up to us to remain fresh, relevant and innovate our way forward for the sake of the Kingdom.
With that as context, here are some fresh thoughts on hindrances to church growth for today.
7 Hindrances to Church Growth
1) Diminished faith
It’s possible for church leaders to stop believing. I’m not referring to faith in Jesus, but the potential for a pastor, staff member or key leader to lose faith that their church will ever work.
It’s all too common that a leader can lose heart and slide into discouragement. This is the enemy’s strategy! Discouragement is the breeding ground for complacency and maintenance. As a leader, you may remain faithful, but without any fire.
Vision is then lost. Whether the senior pastor, a children’s staff member, or a small group leader, etc., when the leader loses vision, it’s not long before growth slows or stops.
Fight for your faith. Fight to believe again. Who do you know that believes in you? Get some time with them. Borrow their faith in you. Reflect back on when you believed in yourself, and remember that God is with you. It’s His Church, it’s His idea, and what you’re doing matters.
2) Ministry over Strategy
Those of us who lead in the local church are in it to see life change for the people we serve. Therefore, serving people for their spiritual growth is a priority, it’s what we do. But doing ministry for the sake of ministry can be a colossal waste of time if it’s not strategic.
The goal of ministry is not to be busy; it’s to realize a Kingdom productivity that results in changed lives for eternity. For too many years I’ve watched church pastors, staff and volunteer leaders exhaust themselves with little results.
The selection of your ministries must be strategic, not random. Your ministries should be lean and on purpose, not merely at the whim of anyone’s ideas. Alignment as a team is essential. (And we know strategy without God’s power doesn’t work.)
3) Inward focused
Inward focus is like a subtle bear trap. Of course, there is nothing subtle about a bear trap, except that it’s hidden. It’s not obvious. But when you realize you are caught in one, you then know you’re in big trouble.
No church starts out inward focused. A church turns inward from a good thing gone bad. Community, love, care, discipleship, family, etc., these are all great things and part of the healthy and functioning body of Christ. Until essentially, they become the sole focus of the church.