Overcoming Barriers to Church Growth
By: Michael Fletcher
Churches are supposed to grow. The adage, “if you’re not growing, then you’re dying,” applies incredibly well to church health. When Jesus ministered, thousands of people flocked to hear His words and were changed by His message. When He ascended and the Holy Spirit came to the disciples, the Bible says that thousands upon thousands were added to the church DAILY! God clearly intends for His church to be a healthy, growing organism, not only in the number of people attending, but also in spiritual growth and maturity. It is the responsibility of pastors and leaders to “tend” to that growth, and lead it to a place of maturity.
Overcoming Barriers to Church Growth shares a practical approach to dealing with the walls that inherently exist in leadership as the church grows. Fletcher explains that there are two main barriers that exist: the 100/200 “active member” barrier, and the 700/800 “active member” barrier. While the barrier is described numerically, it points to a change that must occur in the governmental infrastructure of the church in order to effectively lead a larger congregation.
The premise of the book can best be summed up by Fletcher’s assertion:
“…when pastors become managers of ministry instead of equippers for ministry, growth potential is inhibited and people fall through the cracks.”
Pastors, elders, staff members, and leaders must yield to and disciple leaders underneath them in order to create another level of leadership that can exist to meet the needs of the growing congregation. Mindsets must change, responsibilities must shift, and ultimately selfless preferring must prevail in the leadership in an effort to nurture and grow all members; from the first time guest to the 80-year-old lifetime member. That mindset of equipping and making disciples is necessary at all levels, not only from a practical church growth perspective, but because that’s what God calls us to!
All churches are different and filled with different people who operate in a different culture.
So while the methods may differ from church to church, the principles remain the same. At each barrier, a paradigm shift must occur. It must begin in the leadership and then disseminate through the congregation. The shift is essentially a way to “make room” for increased leadership so that all people are being ministered to, and no one is “falling through the cracks.”