This post could come with all kinds of disclaimers.  But we’ll save those for another post and get right to the reasons your church might not be growing.

  1.  You’re not growing. The number one growth barrier in a church is not service times or seating capacity, it’s leadership. If you want your church to grow, invest in your own leadership. With all the books, blogs, conferences, coaching networks and online courses, it’s never been easier for you to work on developing yourself.

2.  You are not developing other leaders. The Senior Pastor is not a superhero Christian.  For the church to grow, you need to develop leaders at all levels. Many churches adopt the genius with a thousand helpers model and never reach their full potential.

3.  You’re not leading spiritually. The church is not just an organization, it’s a spiritual endeavor. Faith, prayer, holiness and a host of other spiritual attributes are key to both growth and health. You can have a great team, brilliant ministries and all the strategy in the world, but without the spiritual engine, your church will not have God’s full blessing.

4.  You’re competing with other churches. The spirit of competition will kill any attitude of thankfulness. Stop trying to outdo the church down the street or the churches you follow online. God wants to do something unique in your life and in your church.

5.  You don’t have a clear vision. The mission of the church is God-given, but you also must paint a clear and compelling vision of the future. A lot of churches don’t grow because they lack a vision to do so.

6.  You don’t set goals. Goals will keep you focused on what’s next and prevent you from simply responding to every problem and opportunity. For goals to be effective, they need to be specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely. You also need to talk about them on a regular basis.

7.  You think preaching solves all problems. Preaching is one of the primary ways you communicate doctrine, instruction and even pastoral care. But preaching won’t solve all of the problems in your church. That’s why many great preachers struggle to lead.

8.  You are only thinking short term. Your church might not be in a growth season now, and if you can’t see past that, you might miss what God wants to teach you. If you’re in a wilderness period or waiting time, keep trusting God and waiting on the Lord. We often overestimate what we can do in a year and underestimate what we can do in ten.

9.  You’re afraid to change. Many pastors are comfortable with the status quo, but growth requires change. If you aren’t afraid to stop doing what’s good in order to pursue something that’s great, you might not grow.

10. You’re too busy. It’s likely you have too many ministries and programs on your calendar. Which means everything is mediocre and nothing is great. The pull you feel on your calendar and task lists extends all the way throughout the church. Being busy has a lot of dangerous consequences.

11.  You are micromanaging. Leaders who micromanage their staff and volunteers in the name of excellence inhibit growth and rob others of their God-given potential. If your team can’t hang with you, it’s on you for not developing them.

12.  You’re afraid of people. Leaders who are afraid to lovingly confront or call people to change won’t break through the roadblocks of growth.

13. You’re not spending money on outreach. If you want to reach more people, spend more money on outreach, community service, and advertising. Start building a growth fund and leverage resources for growth, not just maintenance. If you want to reach people, put your money where your mouth is. If you’re looking for a fresh way to engage people and invite them to church, try this. 

14.  Your services are not consistent. Like it or not, church in the Western world centers around the church service. If those services are not engaging and excellent, people will struggle to attend. Rather than bemoan the state of American Christianity, work hard on to make your church services great. Study and pray so your sermon is good. Make sure the musicians practice. Think about the environment.

15. God has something else in mind. Who can really know the mind of God? Maybe you’re doing everything right but God still isn’t allowing your church to grow like you want. It can be frustrating, but maybe God has a different plan.

16.  You’re blaming others. God is bigger than your deacons, elders, staff, building, location, bi-vocational status, or budget. Limitations are a cause for creativity, not excuses. An attitude of blame will never lead to church growth.

17.  You keep listening to the same people. It’s easy to get stuck in a rut, particularly those of you who are a part of a network or denomination. But God is doing things all over the world and you would be wise to listen to people who think different.

18. Your structure inhibits growth. Some churches just aren’t set up for growth, with structures that slow down decision making and leadership.  If that’s the case, you’ve got to work on the structure before you change programs and ministries.

19.  You don’t have healthy systems. Many of the problems you face in church are systems problems disguised as people problems. And you can’t solve systems problems with better preaching or more vision. Anytime you do something more than once, you need a system. The Systems Course is a 7 month, online, insanely practical course to help you create healthy systems for follow-up, assimilation, giving, preaching, leadership, volunteers and communication. You’ll get coaching, ideas and lots of resources. Learn more here.

20. You are not focused on young people. If you want your church to grow, focus on children and young families.  Shift your programming, staff and budget to serve the next generation.