Church growth is more than numbers. Spiritual growth is every bit as important as numerical growth. But after a church has failed to see numerical growth for three consecutive years, it is normally considered to be in a state of plateau. Plateaus most often occur at 75, 125, 200, 500, 900 and 1,500 in average attendance for your largest attended service. Within Apostolic churches, almost 70% of our churches are in a plateaued condition, with most at around 70–100 in attendance.
Attendance plateaus are often broken quickly. Once a pastor addresses and removes the barriers that have kept the church stagnant, it tends to grow rather quickly, usually within three years, to the next plateau.
Barriers to growth are many and differ from church to church. The more common barriers are: (1) Lack of emphasis upon prayer, (2) Lack of emphasis upon new convert care and discipleship, (3) Lack of emphasis upon evangelism and seed-sowing ministries, (4) Lack of organization and leaders to support that organization, (5) Lack of an effective management system to inspire and motivate ministry leadership, (6) Failure to address with spiritual authority a Jezebel spirit that hinders growth either by subverting pastoral authority, gossip or hyper-spiritualism, (7) Failure to teach God’s plan for financing the church through tithing and sacrificial offerings, and more.
But beyond solving growth restricting barriers, a church must also take proactive measures to press forward to the next level. These include: (1) Expand your vision. Growing churches intend to grow. Know to where you wish to grow and within what time frame. Most churches can double their current average attendance within 3-5 years by implementing a solid church growth plan. Use a “5-Year Numerical Growth Worksheet” to set your goals for attendance, church membership and new converts, (2) Expand your knowledge. The lead pastor must educate himself or herself on how to grow. Select a dozen books – those that have been proven to be the most helpful – and read/study them. Develop a detailed implementation plan for growth, (3) Expand your evangelism. Every church should have a successful strategy for increasing church visitors, following up on those visitors, teaching home Bible studies, encouraging saints to consistently witness, and increasing Sunday school attendance, (4) Expand your staff, both volunteer and paid. Developing a ministry team is a must. Ten to 12 major department leaders should meet monthly with the pastor (on an off-church night) to implement the growth strategy they developed during their Annual Planning Retreat. Each department should have a written plan for seeing their ministry grow, solve problems and reach souls, (5) Expand your facilities. Churches rarely grow beyond 80% of their seating capacity. If you are already there, it has become a hindrance. If you are anywhere close, you need a solid plan to address this before you reach it, (6) Train future leaders. As a church grows, its organization must grow. Enlarged organization requires more staff. It takes time to train leaders. You must begin training today the leaders you will need in 3-5 years.
Much of this is addressed in detail in Total Church Growth. To order call: 1-800-800-0247.