Even if things didn't go as expected, God was working in your church last year. Whether you tilled the soil, planted the seed, or reaped a harvest, serving Jesus through a local church is a blessing.

As you turn the page to a new year, you've undoubtedly got hopes and dreams and vision. You want to see people in your community come to know Jesus. You want those who know Jesus to experience Him even more. You want the church to grow both in size and in health.

So what's going to be different this year? With so much going on, where should you put your focus? We humbly offer these four suggestions.

1.  Make this year about people, not about programs.

Programs and ministries are great, but let's not forget the heart behind them. You didn't get into ministry to run a program – you answered the call because you wanted to reach people for Christ. So while you should constantly evaluate your programs and ministries, you must fight to stay focused on the very people you're trying to reach. This is much harder than it sounds.

Too many times, we're more committed to specific church programs than the reason those programs were started in the first place. There's nothing sacred about a service time, curriculum or program. So don't spend all your time on programs; focus on people.

2.  Make this year about inviting, not about recruiting.

You need volunteers and leaders, and when you don't have enough, there are a plethora of tactics you can use to motivate. Sermons get a little more pointed as the sign up tables get a little less crowded.

But instead of strong arming people into doing what's good for them, try inviting them into a family. Stop recruiting people into leadership and start developing and discipling them. Instead of begging people to serve or lead, invite them to follow Jesus. It's slower, but it's far more effective.

3.  Make this year about serving, not about leading.  

“The highest type of ruler is one of whose existence the people are barely aware….When [a leader's] task is accomplished and things have been completed, all the people say, ‘We ourselves have achieved it!’”  Those were the words of Lao-Tzu from the fifth-century BC.

Leadership is important, and there are ton of resources to help you be a better leader. But you don't need special skills to help people. And you don't need a whole lot of permission to make people's lives better. By all means, keep leading. But lead humbly with a towel in your hand.

4.  Make this year about strategy, not about tactics.

It's easy for church leaders to fall into the trap of putting out weekly fires.  The urgency keeps us away from the important, and we get to the end of the week feeling like we didn't make any real progress. It's a classic case of working on it but not in it.

Instead of responding to issues, make this the year you finally create some healthy systems in your church. Address the underlying issues and make some real progress.

So What's Next?

Feel like your church should be growing, but it's not? From someone who used to be a pastor and church planter, I know it can be frustrating.

Ultimately, church growth is up to God. But are we doing everything we can to ensure our church is healthy? How do we overcome the barriers we feel are in front of us?

We know you care deeply about leading a healthy growing church because it means leading more people to Jesus. As a result we created a free guide to breaking barriers that will bring clarity and help begin to alleviate your frustrations.

Get your FREE copy of the Senior Pastor's Guide to Breaking Barriers today by entering your name and email below.

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In this free PDF we'll cover the cultural, spiritual, and structural growth barriers encountered by most churches.

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