As a Pastor and church planter, I wanted the church to grow.

There were thousands of people in our community who did not know Jesus, and I wanted to make a dent in eternity. As the leader, I focused most of my time working on facility tasks, changing service times and trying new special events.

There’s nothing wrong with those things, but after five or six years, I realized they weren’t the things holding us back. There were other growth barriers keeping us from moving forward. But, the growth barriers people talk about weren’t really the ones I faced.

Here are the 5 real growth barriers I experienced leading a church that wanted to grow.

#1 – Leadership Stunts Church Growth

Hands down, this is the #1 barrier to growth (and health) in your church.

The ripples of good leadership go far, it cuts across every ministry. But good leadership does not happen by accident. It requires focus and some hard work. I know it’s trendy to talk about going multisite, but healthy leadership is far more important.

When pastors lead themselves, lead their teams and lead their volunteers, amazing things happen.

This is one of the reasons we start our church growth coaching with leaders.  We help pastors create personal growth plans, develop their team, bring on new leaders, and ultimately push leadership out through every level of the church.

It's easier to to look outward at all that's wrong wtih your church.  But before you do that, look inward and focus on becoming the best leader you can be.

#2 – Lack of Clear Vision Muddies Church Growth

Your church has a purpose and that should come straight from the Bible. You can make it sound great, but it’s probably some version of the Great Commission. This is a MUST HAVE but it’s not the same thing as a mission.

Knowing the difference between purpose and mission isn’t just for etymologists. It’s crucial to know and communicate both if you want to lead a growing church.

Your church purpose statement should describe your eternal reason for existence.

Your missions statement should describe your current endeavors.

The distinction is really important and it's likely the key in engaging your WHOLE church body.  Read more here.

#3 – Busyness Keeps Your Church from Growing

Will Mancini said it like this: “Most churches do too much. In the absence of clear discipleship outcomes, we feel successful only with more attendance at more church stuff.”

I am absolutely convinced most churches are way too busy – stuck on a ministry treadmill of doing things that don’t lead to results. It’s understandable because most of the things we are doing have a lot of good in them. But being too busy has dramatic consequences.

When is the last time you evaluated your programs and ministries, not based on if they do some good, but on how effective they are at accomplishing your mission?

If you're a Church Fuel member, you'll find a ministry evaluation form in the resource library.  Use it right out of the box or quickly customize the original with your branding and language.  Use the form to take an honest look at a ministry.  Evaluate based on effectiveness, not whether or not you like it.

#4 – Mindset will Keep Your Church from Growing

When Tony Dungy took over the Bucs, he had to change the mindset. He had a good scheme and he had NFL caliber players, but they were too used to losing. He had to change the mindset.

Churches get stuck with an insider mindset. And this doesn’t have anything to do with being traditional or contemporary.

If you want your church to grow, you have to develop a growth mindset. This isn’t easy, but there are a lot of things you can do to start the process.

Dive deeper into the growth mindset with this video (it's actually one of the first Master Classes in the Church Fuel program)…

Living with a Growth Mindset – Michael Lukaszewski from Church Fuel on Vimeo.

#5 – Systems and Processes Help the Church Grow

So many of the problems in your church are really systems problems. You can’t solve systems problems with better preaching or more vision. Systems problems can only be solved with healthy systems.

For what it’s worth, if I was stepping into a new church as the leader, I would focus on these five systems first…

  • Guest Follow-Up
  • Worship Service Planning
  • Volunteer Development
  • Small Group Involvement
  • Donor Discipleship

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. That's why 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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