What's limiting your church's growth

Discussion in '2003 Archive' started by Deacon, Sep 10, 2003.

  1. Deacon

    Deacon
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    I traveled today through a different part of town and passed by the Baptist church that recently made the local newspaper after it was hit by lightning :eek: . Everything’s okay there, just some wounded dignity and a somewhat charred roof.

    The community is about 50 years old and so are many of the churches. They typically have same architectural form (big A-frame sanctuaries) and about the same amount of acreage and (perhaps) the same sized congregations that they had 50 years ago.

    During our last congregational meeting the pastor went over a brief history of our church.
    We have had 6 or 8 different worship areas in the short time of 50 years.

    We currently own two sites that we use for various church activities. The sites are barely meeting our needs and we find that they are becoming more costly to maintain as they age. We are looking for another larger (single) site that will give us room to grow.

    Has your congregation grown over the years?

    What are the factors that limit the size of a congregation’s growth?


    Rob
     
  2. NateT

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    In reference to the second question, George Barna just did a survey on that issue. It is right Here.

    If I'm reading right, it basically says small churches stay small because they attract people who like small churches. The bigger churches attract people who are driven to make the church even bigger and therefore it grows.

    So to answer your question, people are often a factor on limiting growth.
     
  3. Scott J

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    Only been there a year. It grew then shrank again.

    Apathy. A condition when we arrived that has not improved.

    And legalism. A prominent member of the church insists on some legalistic standards.

    Some weaker Christians have been discouraged and have become inconsistent or stopped attending altogether.
     
  4. Pastor Larry

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    Over the 99 years of this church's existence, it has been up and down. I have been here almost five and, in our Sunday AM service, we are close to double what we were when I came. That is not a whole lot of people, but the percentage is not horrible.

    There are a lot of these I think. Location is an important. Virtually all the megachurches, or fast growing churches, are in growing areas. We are in a dying area. The prime for this area was back in the 50s and 60s and the church was about 7 times what it is now, in terms of numbers.

    Leadership is important. Some pastors are not good leaders and some people are resistant to leadership.

    Provincialism is another factor. In this mode, people are very protective of "our church" and see newcomers as threats to the power base. They are tied to the building itself and the traditions of that church. These things can be overcome and worked through and with, but it can be difficult and can be a long process.

    The comments that small churches don't grow because they attract people who like small churches is probably true to some extent.

    All told, there are a lot of factors. I don't think there is any one factor that dictates it.
     
  5. Deacon

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    Hey Nate, were you reading over my shoulder? [​IMG]

    Barna writes, "...small churches often grow into larger churches once they develop significant internal leadership and creatively overcome their resource limitations.”

    Problems we are dealing with that are limiting our growth include parking lot size, Sunday school class space, office space and escalating maintenance costs. We have "creatively" dealt with these problems for quite a while, now it's time for more new ideas.

    Rob
     
  6. Grace

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    Right now, our church has shrunk. We almost think of it as "weeding out" because we've been hit hard by satan. But, the people that needed to leave have left, and new ones are starting to come. The people that left were the ones most adamant against any change. Our college group 4 years ago had about 30 people in it..last year we had 4, now we're having eleven pretty constantly. We're healing, but it's a slow growth process.
     
  7. Lorelei

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    I think sometimes a strong Bible teaching, believing church will not grow because people simply are not looking for solid biblical teaching. We can look around us and see that many watered down churches are experiencing great growth. Numbers is not always an indication that a church is doing the right thing.

    Of course not all large churches are watered down. I just don't think the focus of a church should be the number of people who attend but to make certain that those who do are being biblically discipled and getting the meat of the Word, not merely milk. Evaluating growth can be a good thing as long as we are willing to let the numbers stay small if we find that we are doing everything "by the Book."

    ~Lorelei
     
  8. ScottEmerson

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    If we are doing things by the book, there will be a strong emphasis on sharing the gospel with the world around us. I can't see how churches should ever be satisfied with their size with that command from Christ in the Word.
     
  9. Wisdom Seeker

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    Yes, unbelievably.

    I don't know...I've always been surprised that some churches just have the same membership year after year. But after visiting a few of them, I'm not in any hurry to go back either.

    Why ? Well, for a few reasons. They don't use the Bible, even the Pastor doesn't seem to use one. The people aren't friendly. Praise bands...instead of a choir who sing actually songs with more than one phrase over and over again. No children's programs. The grounds and the building aren't clean and show a lot of decay. A little too worldly and a little ungodly in the messages that don't even really say anything useful about God. An attitude that nobody reads the Bible??? That one really bugs me, when the Pastor expects people to not care about reading the Bible.

    If you wanted to ask me why my church has grown from a dozen people to thousands in less than two decades...I would have to say that soul winning is a major part. A sense of community where everyone is valuable. Encouragement to grow in the Lord and read and study the word of God. Good wholesome fellowship. Members that go the exra mile to make people feel welcome. It feels like family, it feels like home. Why other churches don't bother to pay attention to these details baffles me. It's like they don't care.
     
  10. gb93433

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    How about the 4000 in the book of Acts?

    How about the tremendous growth of the early church?

    I can show you a number of churches that are lazy and will not share their faith with non-christians because they like their holy huddle. Several years ago I heard a pastor speak from a large church. One of the basic requirements for church membership in his church was that the person must have led someone to Christ.

    All large churches were once small. A selfish church will never grow large. When selfishiness goes Christ can come in an find a place. A small church that is unselfish and seeks to share the good news with non-believers will grow.

    Why would a holy God give to those who are lazy and will not work and pray?
     
  11. Baptist in Richmond

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    He was asking about YOUR church...... :D [​IMG]

    [ September 11, 2003, 09:09 PM: Message edited by: Baptist in Richmond ]
     
  12. Pete Richert

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    There was a study on church growth once that concluded that a church will not grow to more then 80% of its available seating. There are of course huge exceptions to this, but one sure way to grow some is to get a bigger building. There was a church here is Austin recently that was getting to big for its premises, so it took out a huge loan and bought another, rather large building a church site. And whollla, within a year and a half this already huge church about doubled in size to super huge. Seats.
     
  13. Lorelei

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    There was a great growth in the early church, but the Bible tells us in the last days there will be a "falling away." It says men will follow their own "evil desires," believe what their itching ears want to hear, and not put up with sound doctrine.

    You can judge our church by our numbers if you like, but we know that we witness and our entire emphasis is preaching the gospel. We, however, do not sell out and water down that gospel. I have shared with several people and some of them have attended my church and not come back. Those same people are content with living their lives as is. They are not interested in living for Christ. They want answered prayers in times of troubles, but they do NOT want to commit their lives to him. They have heard and continue to hear about Christ, they just refuse Him.

    The larger church I left, that is building their $1million activity center is growing and growing. In the three years I attended, not once did I hear the word hell. This is only one illustration of how their messages were watered down and showed they feared to mention the entire truth of the gospel.

    I, however, do not assume all large churches are that way, nor are all small churches necessarily Biblicaly based. I just mentioned it to prove that numbers do not show us who is or is not lazy.

    You can assume our church is "lazy" or "selfish", but not having attended you will never know. We should judge a church by what they preach, not how many people they have attending. Our church has experienced times of growth and times of stagnation and maybe even decline. The Bible doesn't specify what it means when that happens.

    Out of all the letters to the churches in the NT I hear a great amount of emphasis about preaching the gospel, standing firm in doctrine, not letting false teachers seep in, but not once do I recall them being reprimanded for not growing enough in numbers. Growth in the NT had to do with spiritual growth, not how many people were sitting in the pews. We must remember, they didn't even have pews to sit in.

    ~Lorelei
     
  14. showard93

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    I think alot of people just aren't interested in making church and the Lord a priority and I also think when a Pastor preaches the truth bold, and names sin alot of people don't like that and tend to leave or look for a place that will tickle there ears.
     
  15. gb93433

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    All I know is that when the scriptures are taught people will either fly out or flock in but things wil not be the same. It all sepends on their atttiude. I have experienced both. But those numbers do not measure growth or health. All they measure is bodies.

    My philosophy is that every person must be presented with the opportunity to grow. When I give them the opportunity there is a response that is demanded. People that want to grow are encouraged by that. Those who want the holy huddle are plagued by that.

    It is people who can reproduce themselves and make disciples that God uses. When we do our part God will do his part.

    Some are like Judas. Some are like Mattthew who will give up their prestigious job and follow Jesus.
     

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