In Part 1 of this series, I wrote that it is possible for a bad or wrong attitude to slow or prevent growth. In Part 1, I listed a dozen barriers. In Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4, I looked at the first nine barriers: 1) apathy/spiritual immaturity/laziness, 2) busyness, 3) lack of leadership, vision, and planning, 4) lack of knowledge/training, 5) inward focus, 6) conflicts, 7) lack of ownership, 8) turfism, and 9) settling for the good rather than the best.
In Part 5, I want to examine the final three barriers. Consider the following:
- Implosion of Structure and Span of Care. Many churches try to grow with as little leadership, structure, and work as possible. It is like building a bridge over a river but leaving out a quarter of the structure. It will not stand. Neither will Sunday School. At the same time, less leadership provides less care. And less care results in less attendance. Needed span of care is about one leader for every five person in attendance. These leaders include teachers, member care leaders, outreach leaders, etc. Add more leaders, train them, and hold them accountable for providing needed care.
- False Growth Assumption Due to Aisle Traffic. People see decisions in worship and assume the church is growing–even if no one new has joined their classes in ten years. New Christians and new members can help growth the church–if they are connected quickly. Sadly, about 80% of new church members drop out within six months. This is especially true if they did not get involved in Sunday School. For so many churches, the back door is bigger than the front door. What I mean is that churches are losing members faster than they are gaining them. Get them in classes. Start a new member class. Help them make friends. Quickly.
- Lack of Space. I am reminded of Ken Hemphill’s great little book, The Bonsai Theory of Church Growth. When our pot is small, it contributes to keeping the plant small. If we only use our space one time, it reduces the number who can attend. If we are full in one age group, it slows or stops our growth in the other age groups. If worship or parking are full, they slow or stop Sunday School growth. If preschool is full, it will also slow or stop adult growth, etc. Don’t let your pot determine your growth. Use it multiple times. Clear out storage. Use nearby space. Build more.
Evaluate. Look for barriers. Plan around them. Grow. Make disciples. Be revolutionary!