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By Ryan Paulin
Church growth is every pastor’s dream. Usually, the concept of church growth is limited to refer only to an increase in church attendance without considering the quality of its members. When quality is set aside, the church may grow in number but may not remain stable and end up splitting into several groups.
In order to achieve a good quality church growth, one must identify the possible barriers or obstacles along the way. There are five common church growth barriers that should be avoided, namely: poor administration, ineffective evangelism, inadequate programming, increasing complexity, and ingrown fellowship.
Oftentimes, the greatest barrier to church growth comes from the leadership. The pastor must have the right motive in leading. If growing a church is only to show off and compare with the other churches around, then it is not kingdom building anymore. In addition, if growth is only aimed at having more people in order to justify a pastor’s plan for building expansion then he/she may be at the wrong direction. When this happens, there is a need for the pastor to stop and pray, and to listen to God’s soft prompting that ‘it’s not about you, it’s all about God.’ Church size is dependent upon the context and community, the pastor, and his willingness to serve.
Considering the size of the community and the prospects for evangelism and church membership is really important. It would be impossible to have 3000 members when the population of the community barely reaches 1000. One must be realistic in setting goals for church growth. In addition, it is very important that the leader does not ‘lord over’ the church. In the Christian point of view, the pastor is a shepherd or a servant leader. He is not there to be the boss. He/she should be willing to serve. Following the example of the pastor, the church members will turn out to be willing to serve also and will win the whole community more effectively.
Good administration is often anchored on humility and dependence on God and His will.
There are several methods and ways for evangelism but all of these will not be effective if there is no genuine concern and compassion on the evangelists. Remember, evangelism is not the pastor’s job alone. It is every believer’s responsibility to share the gospel. Church members must show genuine concern, care, acceptance and a loving atmosphere so that people will believe in what they are preaching. Since actions speak louder than words, the relationship of the members with their pastor and with each other must manifest the message they are proclaiming.
The church must know the needs of the people and make it a priority in their program in order to attract more members or church-goers. The church symbolizes a place of refuge for many. People go to church because they are desperate, lonely and needy. If the church fails to address these issues then it will not attract people to its fold. The church is duty-bound to set its programs on those that will help both the members and the community or prospective members.
As the church grows, the members begin to lose the sense of intimacy and belongingness that small groups or churches possess. The leadership must anticipate this possibility and create cell groups in order to maintain the close fellowship. Moreover, other issues regarding growth and expansion must be foreseen and planned in order to continue growing and not end up like a plateau. Additional leaders will then be needed so even if the church is still small, the pastor must see to it that he/she has discipled his/her members to help him/her in nurturing and discipling others.
A church may be considered ingrown if most of its members have been attending church for more than 12 years and there are lesser new members who have joined in the last few years. Sometimes a church may have grown old and all its new members are children and grandchildren of the original members. This is a sign of ineffective evangelism too. The church must be dynamically reaching out and bringing in more new members.
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