Note: This article originally appeared on Brian Dodd On Leadership.
A Few Things First and a Motive Check
Every time church growth surfaces as a subject, some leaders get defensive. What’s wrong with small churches? Why are so many people obsessed with growth? And then people go hyper-spiritual and start quoting scripture verses to justify why church growth is a bad thing.
I write posts like this because I love the mission of the church, and I truly believe Jesus is the hope of the world.
I have met with countless church leaders who want their church to grow for great reasons (because they love Jesus and believe people’s lives are changed by him) but are puzzled at why their churches aren’t growing. That’s why I write posts like this. (If you want more posts on growth, you can check out “8 Reasons Most Churches Never Make It Past the 200 Attendance Mark” and “6 Keys to Breaking the 200, 400 and 800 Attendance Barriers“).
And, yes, I have also met church leaders who want their church to grow for questionable reasons too. God knows the hearts of people, and just because some people might want a church to grow because because of ego does not mean all growth is bad.
And, in the end, healthy things grow. The mission of the church at its best throughout the centuries has been an outward mission focused on sharing the love Jesus has for the world with the world.
That’s why this matters to me (and to so many of you).
10 Very Possible Reasons Your Church Isn’t Growing
So with that in mind, here’s a list of 10 things that might be holding your church back from realizing the potential of its mission. We’re often the last to see what so many others see, and once we see it, we can deal with it. Progress often ensues.
Here are 10 very possible reasons your church isn’t growing:
1. You’re in conflict.
Ever been in someone’s home as a guest only to have your hosts start to argue with each other? It doesn’t happen that often, but the few times it’s happened when I’ve been around have made me want to run out the door.
Why would church be any different? If you’re constantly bickering and arguing, why would any new people stay? It’s not that Christians shouldn’t have conflict, but we should be the best in the world at handling it. The New Testament is a virtual manual of conflict resolution, but so many of us prefer gossip, nonconfrontation and dealing with anyone but the party involved.
Growing churches handle conflict biblically, humbly and healthily.
2. You’re more in love with the past than you are with the future.
This can be true of churches that are in love with tradition and churches that have had some amazing days recently. When leaders become more in love with the past than they are with the future, the end is near.
If your church is a museum to 1950 or even 2012, the likelihood of reaching the next generation diminishes with every passing day.
3. You’re not that awesome to be around.
Fake. Judgmental. Hypocritical. Angry. Narrow. Unthinking. Unkind.
Those are adjectives often used to describe Christians, and sometimes they have their basis in truth.
There are certain people who are energizing to be around. Unfortunately, too many Christians today don’t fit that description. Jesus was mesmerizing. Paul caused conflict for sure, but he had many deep relationships and incredible influence. The early church was known for compassion and generosity.
If people truly don’t want to be around you, don’t let the reason be because you haven’t let Christ reshape your character or social skills.
4. You’re focused on yourself.
Too many churches are focused on their wants, preferences and perceived needs. They are self-focused organizations and self-focused people. It should be no surprise that outsiders never feel welcomed, valued or included.
If you want to reach people, you can’t be self-focused. After all, a life devoted to self ultimately leaves you alone.