3 Keys to growth
Pastors long for church growth for different reasons. While there ARE a few who have made church growth about ego, most have a genuine desire to fulfill the 'Great Commission.' What are a few common factors in growing churches?
1) A passionate, visionary pastor. Though we often downplay the importance of leadership, it is "nigh-to-impossible" to have a growing church without a man who is an enthusiastic, loving, courageous leader. We must not fall prey to over preoccupation with SELF, but we MUST continue to grow and stretch ourselves as leaders through books, seminars, self-scouting (a sports term for studying your tendencies - your strengths and weaknesses as a leader), and spending time with other, quality men. Be a learner. Be a risk-taker. But above all else, fall in love with your church and the LORD of your church.
2) An outward focused, mobilized laity. I have been blessed to be a part of several growing churches. And while some had good locations and programs already in place, certainly not ALL of them did. Some of my most fruitful ministry came while pastoring in a terrible location with extremely inadequate facilities, parking, and music. What made them successful was a laity with a vision for growth. Prior to my coming, they had been trained to be public and proactive with their faith. While the pastor should definitely lead by example, there were two ladies in that fellowship who invited far more people to our church than I did. If the laity will buy into their pastor and his vision, the challenge will shift from 'How do we grow?' to 'How do we accommodate our growth?' Churches too often make the mistake of hoping their next "big hire" will make them successful - when all they need for growth is already sitting in the pews of their church.
3) A specific plan for growth. "A failure to plan is a plan to fail." The church must have a specific plan for growth... from goals to steps for achieving those goals. From improvement of facilities to development of visitation teams. From training greeters to decorating nurseries - a church that grows is a church that is concerned with the details. While we typically think the pastor should lead this effort, he may not possess the vision or following to get it done. He may be so new to the congregation that he hasn't earned "the right to lead" the congregation. While involved in the process of growth, the pastor needs people around him who will implement a clear plan for growth. Most churches love the idea of growth - they just don't know how. But if you will provide two or three specific things to work on, they will get behind it.
Don't fall into the trap of discounting the importance of growth. Don't comfort yourself by emphasizing, "Quality over Quantity." It is an unwise assumption that for growth to occur it must come at the expense of discipleship. Hogwash! God will bless what we do WHEN what we do blesses Him!