5 Clues Your Church May Have Reached Its Shoe Size

What happens when a church is healthy, yet the numbers stay in a holding pattern?

4. Is Planting/Multiplication a Better Option?

In many circumstances, growing a bigger church is a less viable and less healthy option than planting more Small Churches and/or following a multiple-venue model. We believe that is true for our church, so we’ve helped to plant one church already and it’s likely what we will do for future growth.

I know of one church that has not grown beyond 120, but has started seven other churches, with a total attendance of about 500 on all campuses today. And they have plans for more.

5. Is It About My Church or the Church?

This is what it really comes down to for a lot of us. Do I want church growth for God’s glory or my ego?

No, I don’t believe most big church’s pastors are egotists. Some are, but so are some Small Church pastors who consider their lack of growth some kind of twisted “proof” that they’re the righteous remnant. Size has nothing to do with it.

If we’re pushing for growth so we can have a bigger church than someone else, God may be keeping growth away until our egos stop getting in the way. But once our egos are out of the way, we may make different decisions.

Some of the choices my church makes don’t do much to foster our numerical growth. For instance, we pour tons of time, money and energy into discipling local college students and interns. Most of them will move back home after they graduate, so there’s very little long-term numerical benefit for our congregation. But when those students leave us, they will be better equipped to bless the church. We’re good with that.

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Whatever decisions we make about church growth or shoe size need to be about glorifying Jesus, not patting ourselves on the back.

What Do We Do Now?

Over the last few years we’ve explored what it means for our church to be healthy, innovative and outward-reaching in our current shoe size. We’ve tried a lot of things that didn’t work. But we made three decisions that have become cornerstones for us as we grow in health, depth and outreach.

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Karl Vaters
Karl Vaters is the author of The Grasshopper Myth: Big Churches, Small Churches and the Small Thinking That Divides Us. He’s been in pastoral ministry for over 30 years and has been the lead pastor of Cornerstone Christian Fellowship in Fountain Valley, California for over 20 years. He’s also the founder of NewSmallChurch.com, a blog that encourages, connects and equips innovative Small Church pastors.