5 things that choke church growth

Pastor Bill Wilson
Oregon Ministry Network

Like you, I am committed to church health and growth. One question that I have asked myself is, “What holds a church back from growing?” knowing this can help a pastor and church leadership assess and take positive actions. God intends for your church to be healthy and vibrant.

Church growth expert, Ron Edmondson, suggests five issues that can keep a church from growing:

Entitlement – When the body begins to think, “This is my church,” it will soon start operating outside the complete power and utter dependency of the rightful owner. It will then lose the Spirit’s power.

Energy – The lack of energy stagnates a church. This is not referring to worship. You can worship to your taste, but energy is a part of any movement of God. The church is the body of Christ. Don’t forget: our God is not dead, He’s alive! A church is revived and reenergized when it renews its vision. As a church grows closer to Christ, and introduces others to Christ, it creates more energy for the body.

Excitement – If you can’t get excited about the Gospel, you’re not looking at Christ close enough. Anyone who can raise from the dead, forgive sins, and reconcile us to God is exciting! When the people who regularly attend the church aren’t excited anymore, visitors aren’t likely to be either. When a body becomes comfortable, it often becomes complacent and it loses the excitement it once had. It is then no longer attractive to outsiders.

Engagement – The body needs all of its members. When a few people do all the work, burnout is soon to follow. The church shouldn’t depend on paid staff to do all the work, nor should ministry be limited to those with a volunteer title of some sort. If assignments have to be made before people are freed to do the work of the church, over time, the harvest becomes plenty, but the workers become few.

Efficiency – When programs are so structured that even God couldn’t introduce change, decline is imminent. Growing churches are always thinking about how they can improve. The cliche is true, “The message never changes, but the hearers do.” Finding new ways to reach a changing culture with a Gospel that never changes is part of a growing church’s responsibility.

Obviously there are many other reasons, these are just a few I’ve observed. Whenever I work with a church in decline, I will first look for one of these areas as a solution.

These helpful insights may help you, your ministry or church move into a new season of effectiveness.

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