Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Posted by: Bill Tenny-Brittian on April 24th, 2014

Only Four Things Grow Churches

I’m fond of reminding church leaders that only a few things grow churches, but there are literally thousands of things that keep churches from growing.
When it comes to growing churches, you can do one of two things. You can focus on trying to fix what’s broken so that you end up with a “healthy” church. This is a popular plan that’s largely based on a therapeutic model. Fix what’s wrong and then you (or the church) will do what it’s designed to do naturally. But in most churches, that means trying to fix a whole lot of brokenness.
On the other hand, the alternative is to focus on those things that grow churches and deal with the broken things as they come up (and get in the way). And that’s the model we’ve been successfully leading and teaching for over two decades now. With that said, here are the four things we know that grow churches.
A Robust Inviting Strategy
The capital “C” Church grows whenever someone who was not a Christian intentionally opts to become one. That part of an inviting strategy is often called evangelism (the dreaded E word). The local church grows whenever someone affiliates with a local congregation. Growing churches have a robust inviting strategy with specific tactics for both. They not only see a steady stream of first-time visitors, they see a steady stream of baptisms as well.
An Effective Connecting Strategy
The average church in the US only sees about fifteen percent of their first-time visitors return for a second time. And the number of those guests who return and remain involved twelve months later is typically less than half of that. However, churches with an effective connecting strategy boost their return and retention rate to well over fifty percent. Of course, just getting people to return so they can see the greatest show on earth doesn’t mean very much; which is why the third and fourth strategies are so important.
A Comprehensive Discipleship Strategy
Once upon a time Christian Education, as many of us remember it, was focused on ensuring we all knew the characters, the history, and the background of the stories in the Bible. We learned about Jesus and God and the Spirit and the Gospel stories and … and … and. And in hindsight, those methods didn’t work as well as we’d hoped. We ended up with church members with a basic familiarity with scripture, but not as many well-trained disciples whose lives were dedicated to Jesus Christ and to following his commands. Growing churches have a comprehensive discipleship strategy that gets beyond the intellect and taps into the emotions, but even more so helps their members change their behavior.
A Compelling Sending Strategy
In the New Testament Jesus said, “Go.” Several times. He even gave directions “From Jerusalem, to Judea, to Samaria, and beyond.” But the apostles hunkered down in the downtown Jerusalem church office – even after all the rest of the Christians left town (Act 8:1). Growing churches have a strategy for going and making such a difference in the community that it energizes the average person in the pew and compels them to faithful missional action.
Today’s growing churches give serious attention to these four strategies – what we have come to call the Four Core Processes. Bill Easum and I introduced them in our book Effective Staffing for Vital Churches. Over the next eight months, Bill Easum and I will be leading the Only Four Things Grow Churches seminar in cities across the US. Join us – and Horizons Stewardship (in selected cities) – to learn how you can develop effective strategies that will lead your church to growth.
Image Info:  "Volcano Peppers" by Erin is licensed under CC BY 2.0
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Tuesday, April 29, 2014

The Four Core Processes

by Bill Easum

I was speaking Thursday in Baltimore when I mentioned that there are only four things that grow a church and that I had never seen a church doing these four things that wasn’t growing. In fact, I challenged them to put those four things in place and if they didn’t grow I would give them $10,000.
About that time someone raised their hand and asked, What are the four things.” So I proceeded to share the four things that grow a church.
  • You must constantly invite people to Christ and/or your church.
  • You must have a system in place to connect with them and cause them to return again and again.
  • You must disciple them into followers of Jesus.
  • You must send them back out into the community to back yard missionaries.
Sounds simple doesn’t? But each of these four core processes takes time, energy, and money. Someone has to make sure they happen every day. Depending on the size of the church it is either the pastor and volunteers or a paid staff person for each process.
But nothing else a church does matters as much as they four things.
Then someone asked “How can we learn more about what these four staff positions look like.”
“Well,” I said. Our new book on staffing just hit the shelves. It’s called Effective Staffing for Vital Churches: The Essential Guide to finding and keeping the right people.
You can find the book at or through Baker Books. I think it is one of the best books our group has ever published.
But don’t word for it – read what others are saying about it.
Rick Warren: “This book is a winner.”
Dave Ferguson: “A tremendous help for church leaders”
Darrin Patrick: “I wish I had had this book when I started”
You can also go our website to read three chapters from the book and a video on Time Management when you and sign up.
We’re here to help you grow your church.

5 Outreach Principles You Can Take to the Bank

5 Outreach Principles You Can Take to the Bank
Why are some churches so effective at reaching people and making disciples, while others remain stagnant year in and year out?
Why are some churches so effective at reaching people and making disciples, while others remain stagnant year in and year out?

The answer to this question is not geographical, denominational, philosophical or generational. Today in the U.S., there are all varieties of churches in size, shape and color that are effectively reaching people in their communities.

Most are applying one or more of these five proven outreach principles. I would encourage you to do the same …

1. Outreach is THE priority.

Here is one reason why older churches are generally less effective at outreach than newer churches: The longer a church exists, the more concerned members become with self-preservation … and the less concerned with the church’s original reason for being.

Over time, churches become increasingly self-centered and self-serving. The result, not surprisingly, is that such churches stop growing.
This most important principle says that leaders must turn the focus of their congregation away from themselves, and back to their original mission—and Christ’s mission—of making disciples. This outward reorientation occurs through programming, praying, budgeting, staffing and honestly evaluating the church’s success at birthing new Christian disciples.

While there are many good things a church can do … and there are some important things a church should do … there is only one essential thing a church must do: “Go out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life” (Mt. 28:19, The Message).

2. Social networks are the vehicle.

There is a 2,000-year-old insight that any congregation can apply to reach more people. Here it is: Non-Christians come to Christ and the church primarily through relationships with Christians.

Christian friends and relatives bring twice as many new believers into local churches as all the other reasons … combined!

To apply this principle, encourage each person in your church to list their unchurched friends and relatives in the community. (The average person can list four to five.)

Next, encourage members to pray specifically for these people. A church in my home town distributed a 2″ x 3″ card reminding members to pray for one person on their list, at one o’clock, for one minute, during one month.

Third, encourage members to invite one of the people they’re praying for to an appropriate church-related event in the next six months. And remind members that they may be God’s only connection to these unreached people.

(For a detailed discussion on reaching friends and family, see The Master’s Plan for Making Disciples.)

Friday, April 25, 2014

Ron Edmondson: 7 Helpful Skills for Pastors Leading Growing Churches

I came close to titling these “essential” skills, but I knew that was unfair. God can and does work through all different types of people. But He has appointed some to be leaders, some teachers, etc. And I know this from my experience working with and hearing from dozens of pastors each month. There are some great pastors who admit they aren’t skilled at leading the church.
I hear it at least weekly—“I know how to teach and care for the people, but I’m simply not always sure how to lead.” And yet they recognize the value in and the need for leadership. They aren’t afraid of church leadership, as I’ve written about previously.
I believe there are some helpful skills for those who want to lead a church to not only care for and disciple the people in the church now, but actually grow and be healthy at the same time—where there is momentum and unity and excitement around the vision of the Great Commission.

Here are seven helpful skills I’ve observed:

1. Networking—For definition purposes, this is “the cultivation of productive relationships.” It is the ability to bring the right people to the table to accomplish the mission, and it is invaluable for any position of leadership. This is true inside and outside the church. One place where good relationships are proving helpful in the community, for example, is within school systems. With the right people, churches can make significant missional differences in their community with school relationships. Those relationships are formed through networking. And the possibilities here are endless.
2. Connecting—If the church is large or small, the best leaders bring people together. When a new person comes into the church, it’s important that they be able to connect quickly to others. First, the pastor needs to meet them, but that isn’t enough to really make people feel connected to a church. Good leaders connect them to people within the church, or help create systems of connection. They value connectivity—creating healthy, life-changing relationships in the church—and see that it is a natural, but intentional, part of the church’s overall mission.
3. Visioneering—Good leaders are able to cast a picture beyond today worthy of taking a risk to seek. They may not always have all the ideas of what’s next—they should have some—but they can rally people behind the vision.
4. Pioneering—To lead a church by faith, a leader has to be willing to lead into an unknown, and take the first step in that direction. People won’t follow until they know the leader is willing to go first. Momentum and change almost always start with new—doing things differently—creating new groups, new opportunities—trying things you’ve not tried before. Pioneering leaders watch to see where God may be stirring hearts and are willing to boldly lead into the unknown.
5. Delegating—No one person can or should attempt to do it all. It’s not healthy, nor is it biblical. This may, however, be the number one reason I see for pastoral burnout, frustration and lack of church growth. Good leaders learn to raise up armies of people who believe in the mission and are willing to take ownership and provide leadership to complete a specific aspect of attaining that vision.
6. Confronting—If you lead anything, you will face opposition. Period. Leadership involves change, and change in church involves change in people. And most people have some opposition to change. After a pastor is certain of God’s leadership, has sought input from others, cast a vision and organized people around a plan, there will be opposition. Perhaps even organized opposition. Good leaders learn to confront in love.
7. Following—Ultimately, it’s all about Christ. I can’t lead people closer to Him—certainly not be more like Him—unless I’m personally growing closer to Christ. But following also involves allowing others to speak into my life. It means I have mentors, people who hold me accountable and healthy family relationships. Good leaders have systems in place that personally keep them on track. Self-leadership—and following others who are healthy—keeps a leader in it for the duration.
That’s my list. Or, at least seven on my list.
Ron Edmondson is a pastor and church leader passionate about planting churches, helping established churches thrive, and assisting pastors and those in ministry think through leadership, strategy and life. Ron has over 20 years business experience, mostly as a self-employed business owner, and he's been helping church grow vocationally for over 10 years. Learn more »

Frank Viola

The Missio Dei

“Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
~ Matthew 6:10
As long as I’ve been a Christian, I’ve noted two things that believers routinely get riled up about. One is the role of the Spirit vs. the role of the Scriptures. Christians seem to fall off one side of the horse or the other on this issue.
Over the years, I’ve watched countless fruitless Word vs. Spirit debates that descended into noise. They are fruitless because both the Scriptures and the Spirit work together. And what God has joined together shouldn’t be separated. When I watch people debate this issue today, I quickly begin yawning.
In the same way, I’ve watched countless Christians get roped into fruitless outreach vs. inreach debates. Some maintain that the church exists for outreach (these churches tend to have a rather thin and spiritually shallow community life). Others object that the church exists for community (these churches tend to be insular and ingrown).
The outreach vs. inreach debate is fruitless because it virtually always ignores two things. (1) That an authentic church will pass through seasons (I’ve discussed the seasonal nature of the ekklesia at length in Finding Organic Church), and (2) There are four chief aspects of the church’s mission on earth, all of which are vital.
It is the latter that I wish to focus on in this post. I almost broke this post up into two parts, but right or wrong, I decided to keep it all together. It will be easier to share that way. Future posts will be shorter.  
The big sweeping epic of God’s timeless purpose is centered on a bride, a house, a body, and a family. These four elements make up the grand narrative of the Bible. The mission of God—the Missio Dei—is wrapped up with each of them.
God’s mission demands more than a theological head-nod of agreement. It demands practical expression. The Lord wants a people who embody the bride, the house, the body, and the family in every city on this planet.
In this post and the next, we will briefly explore the practical question of what it looks like when a local fellowship of believers fulfills what God is after and His eternal purpose moves from eternity to here.


As the bride of Christ, the church is called to commune with, love, enthrone, and intimately know the heavenly Bridegroom who indwells her.
Churches that excel in the bridal dimension give time and attention to spiritual fellowship with the Lord. Worship is a priority.
Seeking the Lord, loving Him, communing with Him, and encountering Him are central.
The means of love-filled communion are many: prayer (in all of its forms), meditation (contemplation), worship through song, taking the Lord’s Supper, interacting with the Lord through Scripture, etc.
Such means are not only to be practiced by individual members, but by the church corporately and/or in small groups.
Imagine a church where the members pair off during the week—brothers with brothers and sisters with sisters. They seek the Lord together. Sometimes they will do this in groups of three, four, and more. What are they doing in these groups? They are allowing Christ to love them and they are turning that love back to Him.
They are also learning how to live by divine life. The church lives by the life of Christ. Jesus Christ is the source of the bride’s life. God’s purpose is that Christians live by His indwelling life.
This is something that must be learned and practiced. The bridal dimension of the church makes such living a concrete reality. In fact, this dimension of the church can be seen as the engine that drives all of the church’s activities. It is love from Christ and for Christ that is the church’s motivation, energy, and life.
The bridal dimension of the church is not peripheral. It’s central to the church’s life and mission.

Corporate Display

The church is called to gather together regularly to display God’s life through the ministry of every believer. How? Not by religious services where a few people perform before a passive audience. But in open-participatory meetings where every member of the believing priesthood functions, ministers, and expresses the living God in an open-participatory atmosphere (1 Cor. 14:26; 1 Peter 2:5; Heb. 10:24–25; etc.).
God dwells in every Christian and can inspire any of us to share something that comes from Him with the church. In the first century, every Christian had both the right and the privilege of speaking to the community. This is the practical expression of the New Testament doctrine of the priesthood of all believers.
The open-participatory church meeting was the common gathering of the early church. Its purpose? To edify the entire church and to display, express, and reveal the Lord through the members of the body to principalities and powers in heavenly places (Eph. 3:8–11).
Today, many churches are stuck with only one kind of church service where a few people minister to a largely passive audience.
But such services do not display Christ through the every-member functioning of His body.
Equally so, they don’t display the Headship of Christ, because He is not leading the meeting by His Spirit. Instead, human headship directs what happens, who participates, and when.
I’ve written on this extensively in my book Reimagining Church. Suffice it to say that every church should have a venue for the free-yet orderly functioning of every member of the house of God whereby each Christian offers spiritual sacrifices to God and ministers to the body.
Through such meetings, God in Christ is made visible and the whole church is built up.
This dimension of the church is not peripheral. It’s central to the church’s life and mission.

Community Life

Properly conceived, the church is a colony from heaven that has descended on earth to display the life of God’s kingdom.
By its way of life, its values, and its interpersonal relationships, the church lives as a countercultural outpost of the future kingdom—a kingdom that will eventually fill the whole earth “as the waters cover the sea.”
God’s ultimate purpose is to reconcile the universe under the lordship of Jesus Christ (Col. 1:20; Eph. 1:10). As the community of the King, the church stands in the earth as the masterpiece of that reconciliation and the pilot project of the reconciled universe.
In the church, therefore, the Jewish-Gentile barrier has been demolished, as well as all barriers of race, culture, sex, etc. (Gal. 3:28; Eph. 2:16).
The church lives and acts as the new humanity on earth that reflects the community of the Godhead.
Thus when those in the world see a group of Christians from different cultures and races loving one another, caring for one another, meeting one another’s needs, living against the current trends of this world that give allegiance to other gods instead of to the world’s true Lord, Jesus Christ, they are watching the life of the future kingdom lived out on earth in the present.
As Stanley Grenz once put it, “The church is the pioneer community. It points toward the future God has in store for His creation.”
It is this “kingdom community” that turned the Roman Empire on its ear. Here was a people who possessed joy, who loved one another deeply, who made decisions by consensus, who handled their own problems, who married each other, who met one another’s financial needs, and who buried one another.
This community was living in the presence of the future. It showed the world what the future kingdom of God will look like, when Jesus Christ will be running the entire show.
The church’s allegiance was exclusively given to the new Caesar, the Lord Jesus, and she lived by His rule. As a result, the response by her pagan neighbors was, “Behold, how they love one another!”
We live in a day when the Western church has enshrined rugged individualism and independence. As such, many modern churches are not authentic communities that are embodying the family of God. Instead, they are institutional organizations that operate as a hybrid of General Motors and the Rotary Club.
The spiritual DNA of the church will always lead its members toward authentic, viable community. It will always lead Christians to live a shared life through the Holy Spirit that expresses the life and values of Jesus Christ. In other words, it will live as the family of God.
In this way, the church becomes the visible image of the triune God. By sharing in the communion of the Father and the Son through the Holy Spirit, the church puts God’s love on public display. It becomes His family in the earth in reality.
The family dimension of the church is not peripheral. It’s central to the church’s life and mission.


When Jesus Christ ascended into heaven, He chose to express Himself through a body to continue His life and ministry on earth. As the body of Christ, the church not only cares for its own, but it also cares for the world that surrounds it. Just as Jesus did while He was on earth.
The pages of history are filled with stories of how the early Christians took care of the poor, stood for those who suffered injustice, and met the needs of those who were dying by famine or plague.
In other words, the early Christian communities cared for their non-Christian neighbors who were suffering.
Not a few times a plague would sweep through a city, and all the pagans left town immediately, leaving their loved ones to die. That included the physicians. But it was the Christians who stayed behind and tended to their needs, sometimes even dying in the process.
One of the Roman emperors, a pagan, publicly lamented that the pagan temples were losing customers because “the Christians not only take care of their own needy, but ours as well!”
The book of Acts and the epistles of Paul, Peter, James, and John abound with examples and exhortations of how the church cared for the world. This particular theme is peppered throughout the New Testament documents. (Quoting all those texts would demand another book.)
In short, the early church understood that she was carrying on the earthly ministry of Jesus Christ. She well understood that He was the same yesterday, today, and forever (Heb. 13:8).
That ministry is enunciated in Luke 4:18–19: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
We meet it again in Acts 10:38, “How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.”
Throughout His ministry, Jesus showed what the kingdom of God was all about by loving outcasts, befriending the oppressed, healing the sick, cleansing the lepers, caring for the poor, driving out demons, forgiving sins, etc.
If you peel back His miracles, the common denominator underneath them all is that He was alleviating human suffering and showing forth what the future kingdom of God looks like.
When Jesus did His miracles, He was indicating that He was reversing the effects of the curse.
In Jesus’ ministry, a bit of the future had penetrated the present. Jesus embodied the future kingdom of God where human suffering will be eradicated and there will be peace, justice, freedom, and joy.
The church, which is His body in the world, carries on this ministry. It stands on the earth as a sign of the coming kingdom.
The church lives and acts in the reality that Jesus Christ is the Lord of the world today. It lives in the presence of the future … in the already-but-not-yet of the kingdom of God.
For this reason, the church is commissioned to proclaim and embody the kingdom now—to bring a bit of the new creation into the old creation, to bring a piece of heaven into the earth—demonstrating to the world what it will look like when God is calling the shots. In the life of the church, God’s future has already begun.
This dimension of the church’s mission has to do with how she displays the Christ who indwells her to those outside of her. It has to do with how she expresses Christ to the world.
Jesus fulfilled the mission of Israel in His earthly ministry (Gen. 18:18). But since His resurrection, He has commissioned the church to continue that mission.
Hence, the church exists to fulfill Israel’s original calling to be a “blessing to all the nations,” to bring “glad tidings, good news [the gospel] to the poor” and to be a “light to the world” (Gen. 22:18; Isa. 49:6; 52:7).
The church stands in the earth as the new Israel (Gal. 6:16). And she shows forth that the Jesus who walked this earth is the same Christ who has taken up residence within her members.
This dimension of the church is not peripheral. It’s central to the church’s life and mission. 


So how does a local church carry out the Missio Dei . . . the ageless purpose of God?
Very simply: by loving the Lord Jesus as His bride and learning to live by His indwelling life (communion).
By edifying its members through displaying the Lord Jesus as functioning priests in God’s house and as participating members of Christ’s body (corporate display).
By living a shared life as the family of God, visibly demonstrating what the kingdom of God is like to a broken world (community life).
And by expressing God’s image and exercising His authority in the earth—the very things that the first Adam was charged to do in the garden (commission).
What then is God’s end? What is His grand mission?
It’s to expand the life and love that’s in the Trinitarian Community. It’s to increase the fellowship of the Godhead and reflect it on earth. This is the goal of evangelism. This is the goal of all of the church’s activities.
This is God’s dream, His eternal purpose. To obtain a bride, a house, a family, and a body that is by Him, through Him, and to Him.
The kingdom of God, which is the equivalent of the Lordship of Jesus Christ, is toward that end as well. This ought to give us a new view of the church and of God’s mission for the planet. And that view should lead us to a complete recalibration of how the church expresses herself in the earth.
As I have said elsewhere, God’s ultimate purpose begins in Genesis 1 before the fall, not in Genesis 3 after the fall. Failure to understand this has been the fundamental flaw of evangelicalism and much of the modern day missional movement.
To meet the beating heart of God, we must go back before the fall to discover afresh God’s original intent. Doing so will change everything.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

4 Do's and Don'ts for Engaging New Guests


Practical, relevant tips for connecting with first-time guests in your church.. Image Info:
Practical, relevant tips for connecting with first-time guests in your church.


In what I do, if I don’t know how to communicate with people I don’t already know, I won’t be very successful.
I have an occasion to speak to strangers frequently. Thankfully, our church attracts dozens of new visitors each week, I’m invited to speak other places often, and I encounter new people daily through this blog. I’m learning (it’s a continual process) that there are some specific ways I should and shouldn’t speak publicly to someone who doesn’t know me well. Most of these are true to any audience, but especially for an audience of visitors or strangers.
Here are 4 do’s and 4 dont’s when talking to people you’ve never met.


Don’t take them somewhere before they are ready to go - Let your audience warm up to you before you hit them with truths they may not even believe. You want to speak truth, but you want to earn the trust so they will actually listen. In a message, it’s important to open with a personal illustration or story that let’s your audience get to know you. On my blog, the “About” page is one of the most popular.
Don’t keep then longer than they want to stay – It’s awkward and sometimes uncomfortable to visit somewhere new or unknown. You’ll make it less awkward if you don’t keep them beyond their comfort level before they get to know you. Longer messages may work once people get to know you, but for visitors and first-timers, short and sweet usually makes them feel more comfortable.
Don’t tell them more than they want to know - Especially in a first encounter, people need the opportunity to get to know you before they really trust what you have to say. Answer their initial questions without telling them everything you know and hope for another encounter. In a message or in a blog, when the point is clear, don’t beat a dead horse. Learn to speak succinctly.
Don’t make them wonder what you’re talking about - Understand that people visiting may not be from your culture or have your background. They may not immediately understand your vocabulary. Use language they can understand, and when there aren’t other words, explain it to them enough so they will understand the terminology you are using. This is true for us when we do “church” things, like baby dedications, baptisms, or take communion. If it’s confusing to them, they are less likely to come back.
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Saturday, April 5, 2014
Want Your Church to Grow? One Surprising Secret

Want Your Church to Grow? One Surprising Secret
There is an undeniable relationship between pastoral tenure and church growth.
Several years ago, a study by the largest Protestant denomination in the country found a startling relationship between the length of time pastors had been in their churches and the growth or decline of those churches.

Their finding?

Approximately three-fourths of their growing churches were being led by pastors who had been in their church more than four years, while two-thirds of their declining
churches were being led by pastors who had been in their church less than four years. Their conclusion (with which I agree): Long-term pastorates do not guarantee that a church will grow. But short-term pastorates essentially guarantee that a church will not grow.

There is an undeniable relationship between pastoral tenure and church growth.

While most growing churches have long-term pastorates, and some nongrowing churches have long-term pastorates, it is almost unheard of to find a growing church with many short-term pastorates. Frequent change of pastors seems to negate all the other complicated ingredients that go into a church’s growth mix.

What to do about it.

If you are a pastor, personally and publicly commit to staying in your church for at least seven years. (The average pastoral tenure is less than four years.)

You may get an itch to leave sooner. But if you stay into the sixth or seventh year, you will likely begin to experience unsurpassed effectiveness and fruitfulness.

Once you get past year seven, there’s a good chance you’ll want to stay much longer. I agree with Roger Parrot, who says: “Lead as if you’ll be there forever! Imagine that the organization and position you are in right now is what God wants you to do for the rest of your professional life” (Lasting Strategies for Rising Leaders, Colorado Springs, CO: David C. Cook Publishers, 2009, p. 19).

I was curious about pastoral longevity in the Wesleyan Church. A more comprehensive and correlational study should be done, but last week I called the 25 largest churches in our denomination to find out:

1) When the church was founded
2) How long the present senior/lead pastor has been at the church
3) How long the previous senior/lead pastor had been at the church. 

What’s your guess?

1 2 3

Charles ArnCharles Arn is Visiting Professor of Outreach at the new Wesley Seminary (Marion, IN). He has written twelve books in the field of congregational health and growth, including What Every Pastor Should Know (2013) and Side Door (2013).More from Charles Arn or visit Charles at

8 Reasons Why Most Churches Don't Break the 200 Attendance Mark

8 Reasons Why Most Churches Don't Break the 200 Attendance Mark
All churches want to reach more people, but why do some end up staying small?
While social media, and even traditional media, are still preoccupied with megachurches and multisite churches, the reality is that most churches in North America are quite small.

The Barna group pegs the average Protestant church size in America at 89 adults. Sixty percent of protestant churches have less than 100 adults in attendance. Only 2 percent have over 1,000 adults attending.

Please understand, there’s nothing wrong with being a small church. I just know that almost every small church leader I speak to wants his or her church to  grow.
I get that. That’s the mission of the church. Every single day, I want our church to become more effective in reaching one more person with the hope that’s in Christ.

So, why is it that most churches never break the 200 attendance mark?

It’s not:

DesireMost leaders I know want their church to reach more people.
A lack of prayerMany small church leaders are incredibly faithful in prayer.
LoveSome of the people in smaller churches love people as authentically as anyone I know.
Facility. Growth can start in the most unlikely places.

Let’s just assume you have a solid mission, theology and heart to reach people.

You know why most churches still don’t push past the 200 mark in attendance?

You ready?

They organize, behave, lead and manage like a small organization.

Think about it.

There’s a world of difference between how you organize a corner store and how you organize a larger supermarket.

In a corner store, Mom and Pop run everything. Want to talk to the CEO? She’s stocking shelves. Want to see the director of marketing? He’s at the cash register.
Mom and Pop do everything, and they organize their business to stay small. Which is fine if you’re Mom and Pop and don’t want to grow.

But you can’t run a supermarket that way. You organize differently. You govern differently. There’s a produce manager and people who only stock shelves. There’s a floor manager, shift manager, general manager and so much more.

So what’s the translation to church world?

Here are eight reasons churches who want to grow end up staying small:

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3 Ways to Keep Your Sheep From Being Stolen

3 Ways to Keep Your Sheep From Being Stolen
People are mobile in today's world: Some churches grow and some decline. But what's really going on?
Recently, pastor and theologian David Fitch engaged Ed Stetzer on his data about megachurches and sheep stealing, it seemed that the only thing they could agree on is that there were too many church transfers.

This is part of who we are as a country. The average American moves 14 times over his or her lifetime. And 58 percent of people who have changed churches, changed for reasons that had nothing to do with location.

There may be reasons to leave a church. In a way, church-hopping is very American. It makes sense in a place full of personalized playlists and individualized movie recommendations.

It would be easy to write off church hopping as a cultural phenomenon. You could even cite the individual for a lack of spiritual maturity. But churches have a responsibility as well.

Imagine if your sheep were so deeply committed to your church that it would be hard to accept a job offer in a new city.

Imagine if there was such a level of commitment that they would be willing to put up with poor preaching and bad music.
Church-hopping and sheep-stealing don't have to be inevitable.

But it will require doing at least three things differently.

1. Build a Community They Don’t Want to Leave.

Think of the closest community that you have ever experienced.

Maybe it was your traveling basketball team in high school, your best friends from college or the connections you made on a mission trip. Do you remember that heartwrenching feeling you had when it was time to leave that community?

Does your church feel that way?

Churches are often indicted for being nothing more than purveyors of religious goods and services. They may even “sell” community through some sort of small group system or another official program. But these are often attended only by a small percentage of the church. They can easily become a perfunctory event rather than a time of deep communal sharing.

The second chapter of Acts paints a picture of the young church gathering daily in the temple courts, eating in each others homes, sharing possessions and growing numerically.

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