As a Pastor and church planter, I naturally wanted my own 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 and growing my church.

#1 – Leadership

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.

#2 – Lack of Clear Vision

Your church has a mission or 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 vision.

Knowing the difference between mission and vision isn’t just for etymologists. It’s crucial to know and communicate both if you want to lead a growing church. I’ve read hundreds of church vision statements, and they really aren’t vision statements at all.

#3 – Busyness

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?

#4 – Mindset

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.

#5 – Systems

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…

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

Take a Next Step

We believe two things about church growth.

  1.  You don’t have to sacrifice church health in order to experience church growth.
  2. While growth is up to God, He wants us to be good stewards of our influence and uses us in the process.

If you’re interested in healthy growth in your church, check out the Church Fuel One program.  It’s a community of pastors who value practical coaching and resources and encourage one another to grow healthy.

Every quarter, we deliver a brand new course to members covering topics like volunteers, connecting people, preaching, finances, and more.  Members get access to a resource library full of documents, spreadsheets and templates.  And there are members only office hours and round tables where you can get personal help when needed.

There’s no long-term contract and a money back guarantee, so you can check it out without pressure.  Learn more here.