Last Update 9th October, 2016.
I think it’s time to dispel some dangerous church growth myths once and for all!
Talk about church growth to some people and they think you’re unspiritual – I don’t get this.
A healthy church is a growing church, surely that’s the whole point?
We all want our churches to grow so let’s face these lies head on.
Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church and author of The Purpose Driven Church confronts some of these myths in his book:
Myth 1: If you are dedicated enough, your church will grow.
This is for all those idealists out there (I’m one of them).
Please don’t send me hate mail, but prayer alone will not grow a church.
Simply trying harder will not work either.
Church growth is a partnership between God and people – the power of God combined with skillful people.
We can’t do it without God and He can’t do it without us. Faith without works is dead, meaning you pray like you’ve never prayed, then you leave and take appropriate action.
Myth 2: Large churches only care about attendance.
The truth is, if all you’re focusing on is the numbers of bums on seats then your church won’t grow.
In our recent Church Growth series – How to Grow Your Church Congregation – 10 Steps to Church Growth we looked at the different areas your church needs to grow.
Remember that the purpose of your church is to make disciples, not Sunday morning attendees.
Sometimes quality is better than quantity – a church of 50 people making 30 disciples is far more successful than a church of 1,000 not discipling at all. Size isn’t everything.
“The purpose of the church is to make disciples, not Sunday morning attendees” [Tweet this]
Myth 3: Large churches grow at the expense of smaller churches.
This may be true for some churches, but not all, and it’s certainly not a good sign of growth.
Some churches ‘grow’ because people leave their previous church to be where the action is.
This is transference, NOT growth.
We made a decision in our church that we did not want church hoppers joining our church; they normally have their own agenda and are easily offended.
We wanted to see the unchurched become brand new believers and disciple them from the beginning.
Myth 4: You must choose between quality and quantity.
Should you go for quantity or quality?
Every church should want both.
Quality produces quantity (do it well and people will come) and quantity produces quality (if you have more people, you’ll have more skilled people).
Myth 5: You can’t learn from large churches.
What works in the UK may not be effective in the US.
What works in a small village in the jungles of northern Thailand may not work in Manhattan.
You can’t copy a church’s method and expect it to work. BUT you can take the principles and apply it to your local setting.
Large churches are large for a reason – you can learn from their success.
You don’t have to reinvent the wheel – God hasn’t called us to be original at everything – He’s called us to be effective and bear much fruit.
Myth 6: You must compromise the message to grow.
Cynical people see a large church and somehow the church is selling out and compromising their message and mission because they’re getting people in.
I always question the motive of the person saying this…
Now of course there are probably some churches that have watered down the message but painting every church with the same brush is unfair.
Myth 7: There is one secret key to church growth.
If there is please someone tell us in the comments below!
While their may be strategic areas of focus that trigger church growth, it takes all kinds of people, methods and environments to bring people to God.
There’s no magic formula for overnight success, rather, it’s a combination of factors working together, a series of action steps getting us where we want to be.
Myth 8: All God expects of us is faithfulness.
This is another one for the idealists.
Faithfulness is ‘keep doing what you’re doing’ whereas diligence is pushing ahead, trying new ideas, doing everything you can until you get where you need to be – that’s a big difference.
Keep pushing your own boundaries, keep learning, keep growing and always be open to new ideas.
So there you have it, hopefully today we’ve dispelled 8 dangerous myths surrounding church growth. The truth has set you free!
As always, be free to share your thoughts, questions and ideas, or dispel your own church growth myth in the comments below.