Church Health And Dealing With Growth Barriers (Part 1)
by Niyi Dunmade
God wants His body to grow just like a father wants to see his child grow; He also wants churches and Christians to reproduce their kind (bear fruit), which translates into church growth and kingdom expansion as a whole. Growth is a proof of life; all living things grow; and healthy growth is very essential. The church has a duty to grow both in size and health and church leaders have a responsibility to find the barriers to growth and ways to remove them.
In dealing with the issue of growth, church leaders should always remember that the important question to ask is “what is preventing our church from growing?” as opposed to “what will make our church grow?” This is crucial because the latter will inevitably lead to changes that create unhealthy growth in the church and deviate from God’s will, whereas the former will bring about healthy growth.
It is also important to know that consistently high retention rates are crucial for church growth. You cannot separate one from the other and if you know that your church has retention problems, you must look into that first.
There are many barriers to church growth; we’ve however decided to pick out a few daunting ones to deal with here and prescribe how they can be removed.
Focusing On Tradition And Refusing To Change
This is one of the major causes of stagnation. A church that refuses innovations and change will remain stagnant, irrelevant and obsolete; thereby leading to it’s decline and ultimately death. While it is necessary to hold on to certain fundamental principles of church growth as you consider the kind of changes to make, your church should understand that willingness to embrace certain changes and use them will further propel the work of the ministry and Kingdom expansion. A good example of this is how many churches are yet to create an online presence and use technology as a tool for the church’s mission.
Church traditions are not always bad, but they must be reviewed when they no longer serve the desired purpose and have become shackles for the growth of the church. It is easy to fall into the trap of repetition and thereafter tradition because such processes work and make the job easier and faster. However, from time to time, we need to review how such traditions work and at what cost to your church’s vision. Many churches still practice traditions that they have forgotten WHY they even started them in the first place. That is not good at all. It is okay to let deadweight fall. The church must not be scared of change! We should not be deeply rooted in tradition and comfort that we fail to see evolving opportunities for growth that arise and abound.
Fear That Growth Will Ruin The Fellowship In The Church
Some members of your church might subtly resist growth because they fear that with growth, they will become just a number and will not be able to keep their positions, relevance and relationship with other members intact. We have heard church members’ statements such as “I prefer a cozy church,” “I like how everybody knows everybody.” While it is good for your church to have a cozy and homely feel for members, it should not be the reason for the church’s stagnation. You can make members feel at home without sacrificing growth. Churches need to be fruitful and multiply! The solution to this fear is to create small groups that members with common interests and purposes can join and form a bond with others. For instance, there are churches that have painting groups, music groups, and other groups where interests and purpose meet. Try that out.
Failing To Define Your Target
This happens when a church tries to please and appeal to everybody and end up spending so much and nothing befitting to show for it. A church must define its target and come to terms with the fact that the church will not appeal to everybody in the community. You cannot appeal to everybody; that won’t work. If you look around, you will see different churches catering to various demographics and ministries while still doing God’s work. This is how it should be. The most important thing is to have Jesus as the foundation and move in line with God’s will and purpose of your calling. The solution to breaking this barrier is to define a target and do everything to successfully reach that target. This target definition must be in line with your church strengths to assimilate properly.
Continued in Part 2.