The Problems Of Church Growth

Through the years I have been witness to God doing some amazing things in local Churches. I have had the tremendous privileged of baptizing hundreds of adults and youth as God continued to add to his kingdom. I have led Churches to double in size or even get started strong from just a handful. I take credit for nothing that has ever happened in my ministry that was good but I have helped a few things go wrong. (But that is another post for another day). I view myself as a tour guide on an Alaskan cruise, there is a lot of truly amazing and beautiful things that we get to see God do and I am just here to point it out and tell you about it. For example, since I have been in Adrian there have been 18 baptisms if you count the CIY group and there have already been 5 this year. I had nothing to do with any of these, God just allowed me to be here to witness the growth of His kingdom.

Through all these years of growth numerically in the Church I have noticed a predictable pattern. First, people are really excited. They go home each week praising God and happy to see all the new faces. Usually this is accompanied by a sense of relief for some Churches. In a couple of the Churches I served there was a real question if the Church was going to make it or if it was going to have to close. New people mean new givers and new givers mean the Church will stay open. The flip side of this reality is there is a substantial drop in people serving. This seems counter intuitive but it happens every time. When new people come in to the Church, the people who have been carrying the weight of ministry for a while want a break. Unfortunately most new people are not really ready to serve for a year, especially if they are a new convert, and this leaves a gap between current ministry workers stepping down before new ones step up.

The primary second emotion of growth is … ANGER. With the growth of a Church people are happy and excited at first, but soon it leads to anger. That’s right – anger. Why? There is quite a list actually:
-The parking lot is full (or people are in “my” space).
-The Church building is dirtier. More people make a bigger mess.
-People are smoking outside the building.
-Someone said a foul word. (Don’t be surprised when non-Christians act like non-Christians)
-The auditorium is full (or someone took “my” chair/row).
-Someone brought a drink in the auditorium and spilled it.
-Ministry demands are greater. (2 kids in the nursery was fine, but now there are 8)
-I don’t know everybody.
-The teens don’t clean up after themselves.
-Two services will create two Churches.
-Events are now geared differently toward younger people.
-The worship is changing.
-No one has been to visit me lately (especially the pastor).
-The lobby is too full.
-I can no longer talk to the pastor before/after Church for long periods of time.
*I could go on and on and on.

If left unchecked this anger can lead to gossiping, slander, back biting, false accusations and the destruction of what God is trying to do. I have seen it over and over. The Church begins to grow and the people who were once excited and even relieved to see it happen are now inadvertently trying to stop it. So here are my simple suggestions for any Church member or attendee who is starting to see their Church grow.

1. See the good God is doing and focus on that.
2. Understand that to fulfill the great commission (Matthew 28:18-20) the whole Church needs to work together.
3. Pray before you speak anything negative.
4. Remember the joy and excitement you feel now – and never forget it.

“Thank you God for seeing new people added to your kingdom. May the future hold many, many more.”

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