The church is a movement and movements move. Jesus spoke of a church that He would continually build into, so it is expected that the church should be continually growing as well. We need to master this growth in all areas of the church.
Our focus today is from one of our recent All-Staff training days on the subject of “The 7 Growth Points of Every Organization”. Before we dive in, here is a list of the seven points:
The Leader must grow
Grow your team
Grow your systems
Grow your numbers
Grow your income
Grow the expectation in the church
Grow your facilities
I came to discover these growth points through discussions with my mentors as well as other pastors, and through observations from being a pastor myself over the past 20 years. These were the first things I taught the staff here in Lethbridge when I arrived six and a half years ago. They have remained a regular part of our discussions and have made a huge impact on our growth as a church. We are always looking at which of the seven are our current weakness; which one we need to focus on in the season we are in to move the church forward.
Growth Point #1: The Leader Must Grow
I believe that when a leader stops growing, he stops leading and the organization will no longer grow. So, it is imperative that a leader continually grows themselves. I take this one very seriously and have developed a personal growth plan within each of my priorities.
My growth plan includes learning daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly. I want to grow as a pastor and leader, so daily, I listen to a podcast of a leader or pastor who has gone further than me. Weekly, I read a book on leadership, pastoring, marriage, management, biographies, etc. Monthly, I will connect with a leader who has gone further than me and ask a series of questions that will help me in my situation. Yearly, I attend a mega-conference at a church that is much larger than my own so I can physically see and experience a church of that size, and learn form the leaders there as well. This type of regimen takes time and money, but it is an investment into my growth and I believe that if I intentionally grow, then what I lead will grow too.
Growth Point #2: Grow Your Team
I very much believe that our church’s “secret sauce” is the fact we very intentionally grow our team in leadership. John Maxwell defines leadership as influence, so it seems reasonable that if we grow our people in leadership, they will grow in influence and our church will inevitably grow. So, from the beginning, we have spent a lot of time and money on intentionally growing our team.
For the first 5 years, I taught our whole team a leadership lesson for an hour a week. When we expanded to 4 campuses in 4 different cities, we decided to invest in an entire day a month dedicated to teaching our teams. And then, we added this weekly podcast for our team. We have also invested in books for them as well as in sending them to conferences together. I feel that we have saved ourselves years of training by simply learning and growing together at a conference. We then come home all passionate about the same changes we feel we need to implement in our own setting.
It is so important to invest time and money into purposefully growing your team. If your team stops growing, your church will stop growing. But if your volunteers and staff continually grow, your church will grow too.
Growth Point #3: Grow Your Systems
While systems won’t grow a church, poor systems will definitely stop a church from growing. A system is all about creating movement from one level of commitment to another. A church needs to create movement from the community into the church, from first time attenders to regular attenders, from regular attenders to members, from members to partners, and from partners to the committed core. All of these steps require movement in commitment, and a good system will facilitate that. So, if we are not gaining enough visitors, then we have a systems problem at that level. And if we have a lot of visitors, but they do not stay, then we have a systems problem in retention. The list goes on.
I have learned that there is no “one size fits all” system. As our church grows, we outgrow our current systems and we need to make a change to make systems better to keep healthy movement in all aspects of our growth.
[bctt tweet="“Systems permit ordinary people to achieve extraordinary results.” - Michael Gerber" username="kellystickel"]
Michael Gerber says that “Systems permit ordinary people to achieve extraordinary results.” And I would agree with this. Good systems make leaders look better thanthey actually are and poor systems make them look worse than they are. I think what is important in evaluating your systems is to design a clear path of movement for your people. Simply answer, “What’s next?”. Then, keep accurate numbers of each stage and evaluate whether there is regular movement and growth at each level. Once you identify an area where growth has stopped, evaluate the leaders and the systems and ask, “What’s the best way to grow that in our church?”. Also, ask “Is there anything we are doing that is hindering growth in that area?”. Once you have answers to those questions, you can go to work designing a system that will go to work for you.
I think it is important to note that systems need to work for us and serve the people, not the other way around. We don’t ever want to get to a place where we are serving the system. We make it clear around here that our systems are always open for change. We simply want to find the best way, and if there is a better way, then let’s do it!
Growth Point #4: Grow Your Numbers
This one seems pretty obvious. Every church wants to grow their numbers and this is usually how we define whether a church is growing and healthy or not. But, it is important to note that this is just one of the growth points; it is not the only defining factor. When we recognized this, we were able to more effectively evaluate this point of growth.
We began studying our trends and identified seasons in our church; seasons in which our numbers grew rapidly and when they seemed to decline. Seasons of growth for us were from Thanksgiving to Christmas and from Easter to May Long Weekend. During these times, our numbers naturally inclined. But, we also noticed that they naturally declined in July and August as well as January to Easter.
When we noticed these trends, we started to recognize our harvest time so we changed how we approached those natural growth times. We altered how we preached, how our staff focused, and how we would work our schedule to take advantage of what was happening naturally. When we were in a season of decline, we decided to use those seasons to grow one or more of the other growth points. So, in the summer, we typically evaluate our systems and tweak them to be ready to handle the anticipated numerical growth in fall. Identifying seasons has really helped us grow our numbers and to retain the growth that seems to naturally occur.
Growth Point #5: Grow Your Income
I rarely talk about money publicly. This is because I have learned that begging for money or guilting people into giving is not the best way to grow your income. To me, the best way is with clear vision. I have found that if people are clear on where you are going, and are passionate about going there with you, then they will be more apt to buy in, in every sense of the word. So, we work hard on being clear with our vision. I am not afraid to talk about money, I just feel like I don’t need to focus on it in order to encourage giving. I do teach one or two series a year about money, but it is teaching on why generosity and giving is a vital part of our personal growth, and the benefit it has to each of us personally.
Growth Point #6: Grow the Expectation in the Church
I have noticed that the higher the expectation of the people attending, the greater the level of anointing the service has. I first realized this trend as a musician who participated on worship teams during conferences. At a conference, people were engaged and pulling on us as a team within the first chord being played. Then, we would take that same team and the same set list and play it for our congregation on Sunday and it was like crickets. Jesus could do miracles everywhere except in his hometown. Why? Because they were too familiar with him and their expectations were low. This had a direct effect on his anointing.
The question I asked our team was, “How do we effect the expectations of our people attending weekly so that we can have the highest level of anointing possible in our weekly services?” We came up with two main ways to of that:
With Creativity. If people are not sure what is going to happen each week, they will be more excited to come.
With Excellence. If we can do everything we do with the highest level of excellence within our capabilities, people will raise their expectations. And when they raise their expectations, they will draw on the anointing and that will have a larger effect on the outcome.
So, we are constantly evaluating this area and trying to get a sense of the expectation level in our church. If we sense it is low, then we know we have to shake things up to increase the congregations expectations.
Growth Point #7: Grow Your Facilities
There is a general rule that if a room is 80% full or more, people will be uncomfortable and less likely to come back, bottlenecking your growth. This rule is true for the auditorium, kids classrooms, the parking lot, and the foyer. So, if you identify a bottleneck, then you will have to find ways to alleviate this issue. We are constantly working on this one. It is difficult because the easiest solution is often too expensive, so you have to get creative. That might mean multiplying services, splitting classrooms, renting other facilities, etc. As pastors, we love full rooms, but we have to realize that most people don’t.
My “aha” moment came when I was at a full movie theatre. I was uncomfortable when someone other than my family member was sitting in the seat right next to me. It felt awkward, and because of this, I tend to avoid opening night movies because of how I feel about full theatres. What if people are doing the same in our services? That could be a simple hinderance to our growth and we will have to remedy that problem somehow.
The Movement of the Church
The church is a movement and movements move. The church Jesus talked about is one in which He would continually build and the gates of hell could not stop it. So, the church should be continually growing. God asked us to be managers of that growth and Jesus commissioned his followers to go and create growth; therefore, we need to do it.
[bctt tweet="The church is a movement, and movements move. #growth" username="kellystickel"]
I have found that growth isn’t automatic; it is reliant on a lot more than prayer and surrender to God. It takes skills and silks are learned. God created soil to produce fruit, but He gave the responsibility of managing the growth to the farmers. If two farmers have fields side by side and one field produces a bumper crop while the other is full of weeds and minimal fruit, then the problem was not God’s fault, it was the fault of the farmer for not managing the soil better.
Paul likened us to farmers when he said to the Corinthian church that he planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. That statement does not remove our responsibility for growth, it accentuates it. We have a big part to play. Sounds depend on it and we must increase in our skill set of growing churches because the church is the hope of the world and we’re on a mission, to reach every available person, at every available time, by every available means, with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, by creating churches unchurched people love to attend.
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