Lack of vision, inadequate systems, poor planning, unfriendly people and more will doom a church to irrelevance very quickly. Spotting such churches is obvious and easy, especially for anyone who has spent much time in pastoral ministry.
It’s much harder to spot a church that will grow. Or a healthy church that may not grow.
Take the examples of Church A and Church B.
Both churches are doing everything they should do to promote growth. They’re healthy, vibrant, and contextually valid. They have Godly leaders, enthusiastic volunteers, a compelling vision, challenging, but doable goals… everything needed for a healthy, growing church.
Sure, they each have their problems. No church is perfect. But the problems are minor.
Church A grows.
Church B doesn’t.
Pastor A holds seminars on how to grow your church like they grew theirs.
Pastor B calls goes to Pastor A’s seminar to find out what Church B is doing wrong. Pastor B comes home with a list to work on. They work on the list. It doesn’t help.
Same Mistakes, Different Results
Ironically, and unknown to anyone, Church A is making the same mistakes Church B is making. But those mistakes aren’t hurting Church A like they’re hurting Church B.
Two churches can have the same strengths and weaknesses, but end up with very different numerical results.
So, while Church A celebrates and builds on their strengths and their successes, Church B searches deeper into their failures, trying to fix them. But no matter what they try, Church B doesn’t grow like they’ve been told they should. Even though they seem healthy, their lack of numerical growth keeps Pastor B convinced they’re making some massive mistakes that Church A isn’t making.
The more they work on their problems, the tougher those problems become.
Soon, Pastor B stops trying to copy the numerical success of Church A and starts growing resentful and jealous of them. Resentment becomes anger. The anger becomes toxic. Or it becomes discouragement and something that looks like laziness, even though it’s anything but that.
People see Pastor B’s diminishing enthusiasm and think “no wonder that church isn’t growing.” But they’re confusing a symptom for a cause. Continue reading